A couple of weeks ago, I became enamored with a little-known story about Paul in Acts 27. By the time we reach this part of Acts, Paul has begun his ministry, been arrested and imprisoned. As an Israelite and Roman citizen, he could have appealed his case to the Jewish authorities or to the big cheese, Caesar. He chose the latter.
That choice began a very long journey to Rome. I should say a long and dangerous journey. If you like sea stories, this one is perfect for you. It does make for a great story, but I admit that some of the sailing terminology loses me. I will summarize the story like this: the ship starts to fall apart, the men throw everything overboard, and then they are terrified that they are going to die. The news gets worse in Acts 27:20 (NIV), which says, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”
Without the sun, moon and stars visible due to the storm, they were not only in bad shape, but they were also completely unable to navigate. So, they did what most people would do: they abandoned all hope of being saved. They gave up.
Have you ever done that? Ever been in the middle of one of life’s storms, you couldn’t see any way out and you gave up all hope that things would get better? I see people do this all the time when their relationships fall apart, the bills outnumber the money to pay them or they face health problems that do not seem to have any answers. I have abandoned hope many times in my own life when I failed or just could not seem to overcome some obstacle.
Snippets of Acts 27:21-26 change our attitude in times like these. After the sailors gave up all hope, Paul told them, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage …” He again implores, “So keep up your courage, men …” That is my word for you. Keep up your courage. Do not give up hope no matter what the situation!
My wife teaches fifth grade at Windy Gap Elementary School. Quite frequently, her students will tell her, “I can’t multiply fractions.” Other times, they will say, “I can’t read this book” or “I can’t play basketball.” She always listens to them and tells them that she understands that they cannot do those things. However, she adds on very powerful word to their statement: yet. “You can’t multiply fractions, yet.” “You can’t read this book, yet.” It is her way of reminding them not to give up hope.
Every time that we become discouraged and want to abandon all hope, I can hear God saying, “Yet.” There will be plenty of times when life gets tough, and we will think we can’t get through whatever comes our way. Don’t abandon your hope, yet. God still has more hope for us.