In the previous chapters Paul has been sent to Caesarea, where he is held for 2 years. In the start of this chapter it was decided that he would finally be taken to Rome. He is accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus, his friends. As the journey unfolds there is a terrible storm and finally a shipwreck. This is also true of our lives, many times we will weather storms and in some cases feel shipwrecked. In John 16:33 Jesus says that in this life we will have trouble but take heart for He has overcome the world. It is how we respond and walk with God through these storms that make a difference.
Whenever we go by ferry to the Netherlands in the winter I pray that we have a calm crossing and mostly we do but there are sometimes I take up residence in the bathroom. However over the many years we have travelled I have only been in one major storm, so much so the boat got damaged and was unable to do the return crossing. For that 3 hours of being thrown around and feeling genuinely awful, the thought of seeing Jesus and going home seemed so much better, the joy of seeing land at the other end was overwhelming. It is not hard to believe that in verse 20, Paul and his fellow passengers having endured 2 weeks of the storm and not seeing the sun or the stars for many days, had lost all hope. Or that they were afraid, in v 23 Paul recounts the angel’s visit who began by saying do not be afraid.
Pauls response to the storm was that by being strengthened in God, he encouraged others.
Paul knew that God was with him, in recounting his visit from an angel he tells his fellow passengers that he trusts his God. Paul knew that not only was God with him, but he belonged to God. He knew that God had paid the greatest price, the blood of Jesus for him that he was too valuable to be abandoned. Because you belong to God you will never be abandoned. Paul also knew that God keeps His promises. Paul knew that God would take him to Rome, and he would stand before Caesar (Acts 23:11). So he knew that God would get him to the other side. God always promises to get us through to the other side. Paul believed God (verse 25) in spite of all overwhelming circumstances and we can believe Him too. Paul knew that God heard and answered his prayers (v24). God has graciously given you the lives of all that sail with you.
In believing God and trusting Him, knowing that he is bigger than the storm, is with you in and will get you to the other side we can be an example to others as Paul was to his fellow passengers. He encouraged them and met their physical needs and they all survived.
So if we trust and believe God in our storms, hold on to His promises and let Him hold you, you will get to the other side closer and maybe during the process others will see the way you are and chose to follow Him. Then just maybe the storm was worth it.