Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food–you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. (Acts 27:33-37 NIV84)
A few days into this terrible storm, Paul is told by an angel of the Lord that everything is going to be all right. He assured them that no one would lose their lives and they would make it to land safely. Now, indeed, that is good news. He and the men were able to draw some hope and courage from the angel’s message. But now it is day 14. The seas have not gotten any easier and there is no land in sight. Ever been there? Have you ever had a storm last longer than you wanted it to? Or, longer than you thought it would? I sure have! There have been times in my life when I said to myself, “OK Lord! I understand Your promise and Your presence are with me…But it is still raining! The storm has not ended and I don’t see any change in sight.”
In times like these, we are looking for Jesus to wake up from His slumber and calm the storm. We want the winds and the waves to cease. When God doesn’t seem to be bringing relief when we expect it, we need to do exactly what Paul does. He changes the men’s focus. For two weeks they have focused on two things: this horrific storm and their mortality. Their focus is on what their eyes can see. Paul gets them to focus for a few moments on a God of provision. A God who, even in the midst of the storm, provides food for sustenance. He assures them of the promise of God that they will all get through this storm, and for a moment, he asks them to act like it. He asks them to stop thinking about the storm and their mortality and to take some food. Paul gives thanks to God and distributes the food among the men on the ship (all 276 of them). This meal is enough to get the men refocused and refueled to live another day.
My friends, that is a picture of our entire life of worship and devotion to God. We tear and tire as we claw through this life. At times we lose focus and our sights are on the storm rather than on the God who controls the storm. Our devotion to God’s Word and to prayer is like stopping for a moment to eat. God meets us in those quiet moments (even amidst a storm) to settle our hearts and assure us that He is still with us. Relief doesn’t always come when we think it should come. But it always comes. Peter says in 1Pet. 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
Remember today that relief isn’t always immediate, but it always comes!