Acts 27: 15-20
The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sand-bars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
The duration and intensity of the storm which Paul and the others are facing is increasing. The longer it goes on, the more dangerous it gets. They’ve become desperate.
They fear the boat might literally start falling apart and so they get these huge ropes and pass them under the boat and up the other side, securing them at the top in an attempt to hold the whole thing together.
Do you ever feel like that? Like you’re falling apart? Or that you’re close to it? You feel like you’re so fragile you could go to pieces at any moment.
Most of us can handle having a bad day. We can even handle a bad week. We’ve all had them. But when the pressure on us is unrelenting, when the storm just keeps going and getting worse, when we are constantly getting battered day after day after day – that’s when discouragement and desperation can very easily turn into despair.
That’s what happens here. Look at verse 20:
“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”
There’s no sun during the day and no stars at night. They had no sat-nav - they relied on the sun and stars to guide them. So they have lost all sense of direction. They don’t know where they’re going. They’re totally disorientated.
The darkness never lifts. Every morning, there’s just darkness. You can only take that for so long before you begin to feel what they are feeling:
“…we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”
The worst place to be is when we lose all hope that anything can ever be any different. We can’t see any possibility that things will ever be better. This is just the way life is going to be. Or it’s just going to get worse. We might as well give up. We just want to quit.
When the storm keeps hitting us we might want to:
- Quit our job
- Quit our marriage
- Quit our church
- Quit our friendships
We just don’t want to do this anymore.
There's a song by Misty Edwards called 'I Knew What I Was Getting Into' in which she imagines God saying over and over again to us:
"Don't give up, don't give in, if you don't quit, you win."
Perhaps that's what He's speaking to you today.
Take hope and take courage. This is not the end.