This passage recounts Paul’s voyage, as a prisoner on a ship, sailing at a time when they should have stayed put. Paul is captive, going to places that he cannot control, travelling at the mercy of the sea.
We often find ourselves in similar situations; sometimes yearly, monthly, or even daily. We can feel like we’re captives, voyaging to places we had no intention to go, and travelling in a season where it would be much safer to stay put. It is in these times, which come all too often, where we must trust in God’s promises.
We read that “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:20). Paul does not lose faith at this moment. Instead, he trusts in the promise that the Lord gave him. As Paul shares the words he received from God, we learn that it is essential to stay on the boat and stay on the boat together. Paul encourages those on the ship, and then blesses and breaks bread with his fellow prisoners and passengers.
We remember on this day, Good Friday, that Jesus voyaged to a place he did not want to go. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus believed that the Father's plan was better. The disciples abandoned all hope, that being saved was at last lost; but God had a bigger plan. Jesus’ faith in God’s plan is echoed in this story of Paul, that God keeps his promises.
May we remember that in times of hopelessness, and in times where thoughts of being saved have all but been abandoned, that God remains with us. May we draw encouragement from Paul in Acts 27 to trust in the promise of God, to encourage one another, to break bread together, to realize that we are on this ship together. May we come to know that our salvation comes from Jesus and comes from God’s promise that we do not remain in a place where “neither the sun nor the stars appear.”
The ship that Paul was on still ran aground, they did not come calmly and triumphantly into port, but instead washed ashore, battered by the sea. Life was saved, but still, loss occurred. Today, we remember the loss that occurred to bring us life. May we trust in the death and life of Christ!