“Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.'” (Acts 27:31)
When you experience problems, difficulties, or hurts in life, they can either make you better or bitter. You really have a choice. You can either grow up or give up. You can become who God wants you to be, or you can become hard-hearted.
When you go through difficult times, what happens to you is not nearly as important as what happens in you. You’ll take your character with you into eternity — not your circumstances. How you respond to life’s unfairness is up to you. That’s why you want to decide now what you will do.
Acts 27 teaches three responses to avoid in trials, and from them, we can learn how God wants us to respond instead:
- Don’t drift; stay focused. “The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along” (Acts 27:15). The ship carrying Paul and other prisoners to Rome was in the middle of the Mediterranean and hadn’t seen the sun for 14 days. They couldn’t get any bearings, and they started to drift.
When some people face difficulty, they start drifting through life. They have no goal, purpose, ambition, or dream. Today we call this “coasting”. The problem with coasting is that you only coast when you’re headed downhill. Life is not a coast; life’s tough. Don’t lose your ambition or your dream when life gets hard.
- Don’t discard; hold on. “We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard” (Acts 27:18). The men in charge needed to lighten the ship, so they threw the cargo overboard, followed by the tackle and the food. Because the storm was so overwhelming, they were discarding things they needed.
When you get in a storm and the stress becomes unbearable, you may start abandoning values and relationships. Some things are worth letting go; sinful thoughts, words and deeds!
But God says, “Stay with the ship!” God uses difficult situations to change people. It’s rarely God’s will for you to run from a difficult situation. God wants you to learn, grow, and develop — and he is there with you all the time.
- Don’t despair; hope in God. “We finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20). After 14 days and after giving up their cargo, tackle, and food, the passengers finally gave up hope. But they’d forgotten one thing: Even in a storm, God is in control. He hasn’t left you.
Lord, give me strength to go through the tough times in my life, and reach out with Your mercy and grace to guide me during those times of trouble. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.