“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:22-26 NIV84)
Paul warned the men with whom he was sailing that they should have wintered in the last port they were in because they were going to face some really tough times on the seas and much would be lost. Despite his warning, the Roman guard and captain of the ship decided to sail. Our verses for today catch them in the third or fourth day of a horrendous storm. They have thrown ropes around the wooden ship to hold it together. They have thrown everything they can overboard, yet the future looks very dim. The men do not believe they are going to survive this experience.
It is into this situation that Paul tells the men to “keep up their courage.” What a futile proclamation in a situation with no certainty. We’ve all been in situations like this before! Maybe the storm we experienced was not weather-related but rather related to health, business or relationships. Regardless, it is tough to have courage, hope and faith in uncertain situations. After reading these verses for today, I am forced to ask myself whether the key is the issue of certainty. Paul could make this proclamation unequivocally because he had received a message from the Lord via an angel who visited him. Paul could speak with certainty to the situation because He knew God was in control and had shared with him what the outcome was going to be.
Now maybe God hasn’t whispered into your ear via an angelic visitor about what the outcome of your storm is going to be, but is He any less in control of what’s going on in your life than that of the men on this ship? Before Joshua entered into the battles to take over the promised land against enemies mightier than Israel, God said to him,”Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you will go.” The biblical theme is that we can have hope, faith and courage, not because we necessarily know what the end is but that we have a loving and gracious God who promises to work out all things to our good and to His gracious will.
So, keep up your courage today and every day!