For over fourteen days Paul was aboard a doomed ship headed for Rome. Paul and some 276 people endured over two weeks of scary hurricane force winds in a small wooden ship in the Adriatic Sea. The folks on board had given up all hope of surviving. And yet they held on….waiting for the inevitable: the sinking of the boat and the drowning of all the passengers. They had no rescue in sight!
Of course God knew what was happening and had permitted all of this for a very good purpose. The ship and all it’s cargo were lost, but not “a single hair” on the head of a single passenger was lost—-just as Paul had prophesized.
God does things that strangest ways, it seems to me, and the way He handled this mess must have seemed similarly odd to those sailors. Why waste the boat, the grain, the time, and allow all that suffering and sleepless nights on these poor creatures? Those souls were suffering on that boat and God did not stop it. I need to be reminded of this, from time to time. Sometimes God allows, what seems to me to be meaningless suffering; but then something incredible, wonderful and unexpected follows. Faith is in trusting that God does know what He is doing and that He would not cause wasted suffering.
More than once over the past few years I have wondered if God liked me. Yes, yes, “God loves me”, but frequently I questioned if I was one His favorites or not! I see many others in ministry that seem to never struggle, and appear to live complacent, respected and peace-filled lives. But my redemption never included any assurances of protection from being broken-hearted, lonely, desperate or feeling at times somewhat hopeless——it’s all part of that pilgrimage.
But I suppose that in the end, all of Pauls struggles and torments produced a man that was not easily frightened, or one that quickly gave up, or one that feel into episodes of self pity! Paul was not the writer, missionary, zealot, saint and martyr that he was “naturally”. It took the supernatural hand of God and the humble submission of Saint Paul, to allow “all these things to work together for the good”.
For God to give the world more “Pauls”, men and women will have to remain faithful to Him even when doom and destruction appear inevitable.
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