“Last night, an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.’”
Let’s set the scene. The apostle Paul, in custody, is sailing to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. He’s sailing on a ship that is massive for its day, comparable in size to the great British warships of the early 1800s. There are 276 people on board.
Then, disaster. A “Northeaster,” a wind of hurricane force, sweeps down and takes over the ship. All the crew can do is ride along. Days pass, but the wind is relentless. The crew begins to throw the cargo overboard in hopes of lightening the load and saving the ship. But more days come and go. The storm continues. The sun and stars do not appear. Everything is bleak. Everything is desperate. It looks as though all is lost.
Then Paul gets up. There will be a shipwreck, yes. However, Paul says, “Last night, an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.’” He goes on to assure them that his Lord has chosen to protect all 276 lives on board.
And so here is Paul, facing the certainty of a shipwreck. Nevertheless, because of a word of promise from the God who claims Paul as his own, Paul remains calm.
You can relate to the 276 people on that ship. Perhaps you’ve never spent days on a sailing ship in hurricane-force winds. You’ve had your turn, however, at feeling the winds of trouble blasting through your life. You’ve felt the dashed hopes. You’ve felt the uncertainty. You’ve felt the fear of shipwreck.
We all have. We are, after all, sinful, frail vessels in a sinful, stormy world.
But as Paul says, “The God to whom I belong and whom I serve” has bound himself to us through faith in Jesus Christ. The same God who has washed us clean in the blood of his Son is the same one who will see us through all things—even the shipwrecks of life.
Lord God, when the shipwrecks of life come, see me through. Amen.