Read Acts 27.
What is there to say about this chapter of scripture?
- It faithfully described what happened to Paul as he voyaged to Rome to stand trial.
- It described how God communicated with Paul and through Paul to save the lives of everyone onboard the ship that was wrecked.
- It described how Paul publicly and unashamedly gave thanks to God for the food that he and his fellow travelers ate (v. 35: “he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all”).
In terms of spiritual growth, however there is very little to be had from reading this chapter, at least on the surface.
But think a bit deeper about this. God is sovereign over all things. He called Paul to salvation and commissioned him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul faithfully did that, experiencing persecutions and hardships along the way as well as problems within the churches he started.
Out of compassion for his Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ who were suffering hunger and need in Jerusalem, he led the Gentile churches to collect an offering. As he attempted to deliver that offering, he was told by prophesy again and again that he would face legal problems in Jerusalem, but he went anyway compelled by the Holy Spirit.
Once he got to Jerusalem, the prophesies were fulfilled and he was arrested. To save his life from an ambush, he was taken to Caesarea. While in Caesarea, he was not given the trial he deserved so he used his rights as a Roman citizen to get a free trip to Rome so he could stand trial there.
Now, here in Acts 27, as if being a prisoner and facing legal risk were not bad enough, Paul could not even get safe transportation to Rome. Instead, God allowed him to be transported by a ship that crashed and was destroyed by the sea (v. 40c).
How would you feel about your life and ministry if all of this happened to you? Would you feel that God was mistreating you? Would you worry that his favor was not on your work even though you were doing it in response to his commands and for his glory?
Problems and hardships are part of life. They are the result of a sin-cursed world, not a personal vendetta against you from the Almighty.
God uses these trials to test and grow our faith in him, not to hurt us or push us away. Paul was realistic about the dangers around him (v. 31, 34a) but he believed God’s promises to him (vv. 23-25) and counted on those rather than the circumstances around him.
Whatever you are facing in your life, it probably isn’t as terrifying or as potentially tragic as the shipwreck Paul endured but even if it is, God allowed it into your life, has a purpose for it, and will get you through it if you trust him.