"So Take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told." - Acts 27:25
Faith is a funny thing. I confess that I often feel like I don't have enough. I often think that the weight of doubt outweighs faith in my life. Don't get me wrong, I can look back and many times in my life that God has provided, but there's still doubt. In Acts 27, we find ourselves near the end of the narrative that Luke was writing as the Apostle Paul heads off to Rome. As the ship he is on hits a storm, the people on board seek to find refuge, and they are rightly scared. We can assume that Paul is afraid because, in verses before, God sends an angel to comfort Paul and to tell him of what will happen.
In this short verse, Paul says something that stood out to me, "So take heart, men, for I. Have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told." Faith is a trust or a dependence on God based on the fact that we take him at his word and believe what he has said. Similarly, we need faith to be saved from eternal hell because saving faith is a trust in Jesus as a person for the forgiveness of the sins that you have committed against the holy God and it's through that faith that you will no longer have death and separation from God, but eternal life with God. You may even wonder: Where does faith come from? It's given by God, and God freely gives what is good to all who ask (Luke 11:9–12), and it's good to ask for an increase of faith (Luke 17:5; Mark 9:24). Jesus prayed for Peter's faith to be strengthened (Luke 22:32). As with any gift from God, it is our responsibility to exercise the gift and not become complacent, lazy, or apathetic (Romans 12:1–2, 6–8). Christians can find comfort and peace of mind knowing their faith is from God, because He has said He will finish the good work He started (Philippians 1:6). God is the Author and the Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2a; Romans 8:29–30). It's here in Acts 27 that we can see yet another example of Paul exercising faith. But how can he do this?
When we look at a narrative, it can be tempting to skip the important question and go right to what this passage tells us about the characters. But when we do that, we don't answer the questions that come up: How can Paul have such faith? The answer to this question isn't found the first question about the characters of the narrative. The answer to "How Can Paul have such faith?" is found in the first and most important question: What does this passage teach me about God?
When we look back at Acts 27, Luke is going into details about the storm. What this journey is showing us is God's sovereign purposes and underscores that God can be trusted to fulfill his promises. Over and over again in the Minor Prophets, I have been reminded of that quick statement that is peppered through the prophets: My purposes will be accomplished. Here it is the same. God not only led and called Paul but protected him and was in every part and step of Paul's trip. Paul announces to the other sailors and the prisoners what God had shown him through the angel. The angel had told him that despite the reality that they were going to be shipwrecked, no one was going to die. Being shipwrecked back then was a lot worse then what you imagine from stories like the Titanic. It was a death sentence. People often didn't survive a shipwreck, yet here is this man, a prisoner heading to Rome, who is standing up in the middle of this boat, saying that the men of the ship won't die. They will reach Rome without loss of life (verse. 21-26). The fantastic thing is that as we continue to read this narrative, Paul's words to the men are true as they become shipwrecked on an island, and no one dies (Verses 39-44). Paul had taken God at his Word, even as the storm dragged on, and these professional sailors began to have a meltdown. God has shown that Paul can trust and depend on him over and over in his life. So when God tell him something is going to happen, Paul can take him at his word. For you and me, it’s another example of how we can trust and depend on God during the storms of life.
This narrative shows that God is the true actor behind the scenes. He is sovereign, and His purposes will be accomplished. Paul acts as a messenger of God's promises. As God displays his glory through Paul, Paul acts as a witness to the greatness of God. How is God using you to show his greatness? As you trust him and depend on him during the hard times of your life. Even the good times. I've been thinking a lot about that as I think about how I can even connect with my neighbours. How can God use the storm that I am in to display who he is to those around you? Before that, you need to answer the question: why can you trust and depend on him in the storm? How has he shown you in your life that he can be trusted and depended?
There is a danger of just looking back at only experiences in your life, is that they are just yours. Those experiences may be something that God uses to bolster your faith. Still, ultimately he gives you his Word and his Word shows me over and over again that I can trust and depend on him. Now I have hundreds of examples of people who have trust and dependence on God. Life isn't going to be easy; all these examples tell us that. Pandemic is not easy. Working from home is not easy. Not seeing family is not easy. Homeschooling your kids or grandkids is not easy. But we do have a God that promises to use all the circumstances we face for his glory and our good. We just need to trust him, and when we feel we don't have the faith, ask him for it. Open up his Word and let him remind you of the many examples of how he can be trusted and depended on. Let him display that through you and declare it to those around you. Let him, through his Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bolster your faith. So take heart.