“And now I exhort you to be of good cheer—for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship—for there stood by me this night the Angel of God, Whose I am and Whom I serve, saying ‘Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar—and, lo, God has given you all them that sail with you.’ Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer—for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.”
Others may not listen to you when everything’s “smooth sailing;” but all that may change when their world’s turned upside down.
King Solomon said “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). He also wrote, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (Prov. 26:4) and then said “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit” (v.5).
Prior to Paul’s words in today’s Manna, he’d warned them against setting sail in such a turbulent time of year (vv.9-10). Although he wasn’t a seasoned sailor, common sense alone told him you don’t go sailing on the high seasons when “the Fast (Feast of Atonement) was already past” (v.9), for the Euroclydon hurricane-force winds (v.14) were quite common then.
But, the centurion wouldn’t listen because “he believed the master and the owner of the ship more than Paul” (v.11).
So, set sail they did. “Soft south winds” lured them out of the harbor into the open sea (v.13), but it wasn’t too longer thereafter when they were wishing they’d listened to Paul (vv.15-20).
Even though Paul basically told them “You should have listened to me” (v.21), he didn’t spend much time gloating or rubbing it in; instead, he began telling them what the Lord God had said to him. And, dear Pilgrim, that should also be our modus operandi when others have refused to hear and heed our words of caution, but now are desperate for any word of hope.
Paul used their crisis as an opportunity to point them to the Lord. He told them what the Angel had said to him and “exhorted them to be of good cheer—for no one will lose their life in this storm, although the ship will be lost.” He then further fleshed out this Promise from God by explaining how he “must be brought before Caesar and, in the process, God would spare all of there lives.”
How often God uses His People to be blessings to others (Gen. 39:2-5, 21-23). How often He uses us to woo and warn others. And, even if they initially reject us—or even abuse us verbally or physically—we must not be quick to “shake the dust off our feet” (Mt. 10:14; Acts 13:51), for we never know when they’ll realize their need of “Christ in the crises.”
We shouldn’t be surprised that Paul’s words to the frightened sailors were the same as those of Jesus: “Be of good cheer. Fear not” (Mt. 14:27; Jn. 16:33; Acts 23:11; Lk. 12:7, 32; Rev. 1:17). And, such should also be our admonition when they’re grasping for straws as we declare “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told unto me.” Amen and amen. Hallelujah!!
September 10, 2011