…all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. – Acts 27:20 ESV
This entire first section of this chapter sounds like a perfect description of the individual who finds himself attempting to live life without God. Luke a powerful picture of the difficulty of the journey he and Paul found themselves on as they traveled to Rome. But as I read them, they because almost a metaphor for the lost condition.
…the voyage was now dangerous – Vs 9
…the voyage is going to end in disaster and great loss – Vs 9
…the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in – Vs 12
…we gave way to it and were driven along – Vs 15
…we were able with difficulty to get the ship’s boat under control – Vs 16
…fearing they would run aground – Vs 17
…we were violently battered by the storm – Vs 18
…they began throwing the cargo overboard – Vs 18
…a violent storm continued to batter us – Vs 19
…we finally abandoned all hope of being saved – Vs 19
Do you hear the desperation, the sense of defeat and resignation? These guys were being hammered by the storm just like many today are hammered by the cares and worries of life. Many reach the point as these men did, of total abandonment. They just give up. Even Christians can find themselves in the same spot. They get rocked by life's storms and reach the point where they just give up all hope of being saved. But I love what Paul said to them:
"And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost." – Vs 22
Paul was telling them that the very thing they put their hope for salvation in as sailors, their ship, was going to let them down. In fact, it was going down! That had to be hard news to accept for these guys. They had spent their lives depending on ships to get them where they wanted to go. They depended on ships to keep them safe in storms. They depended on ships for their livelihood. The depended on ships. And now Paul was telling them their ship was going to let them down, but they were going to live.
I think that is where God wants all of us to be. So He sometimes allows those things we have come to depend on most to let us down. The very things we have come to trust more than Him suddenly fail, disappoint us, or crash on the rocks of life, leaving us seemingly alone. It could be our finances, intellect, business acumen, personality, a relationship, education, or any of a number of other things that we have learned to lean on. But what Paul said to them applies to us when we find ourselves in those kinds of situations. "And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost."
Only the ship will be lost
God was there. He was not going to let them down. He was going to spare their lives. He was going to intervene. And He did. Which is what He has done so many times in my life over the years. When things have looked their bleakest and my "ship" of life has gone in the wind and waves, He has been there. When I thought all was lost and was ready to abandon all hope, God stepped in and reminded me to keep up my courage. One of my favorite verses is found in 1 Corinthians 16:13.
"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."
Don't lose heart. Stand firm in your faith. Act like a man. Be strong. Trust God. Quit trusting whatever ship it is that you have been relying on instead of God. Don't panic. He is there and He cares.
Father, thanks You for being there so many times in my life when I thought all hope was lost. You did it for me when you saved me, but you continue to do it daily. Forgive me for so easily placing my hope in things that can't deliver what I am expecting. They always let me down. Especially in the hard times. But You are always there, and I am eternally grateful. Amen