Today’s devotion about God’s promises is part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for fresh insights from God’s Word, or follow my blog via email or WordPress to have my content sent straight to your inbox.
Read: Acts 27:13-26
Today’s Scripture: “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me” (Acts 27:25, NIV).
Scrolling through social media one day, I came across this meme illustrating God’s plan. I chuckled, remembering how the path to God’s promises is often a bit more difficult than I anticipated.
“A bit more difficult” may be an understatement at times.
I thought back to college. If God wanted me to go into ministry, why did I need to spend four years at a secular college? I learned a lot for sure, but it was also where I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life.
Couldn’t we have just skipped that part? I would have had an easier time. Not to mention that I would be in less debt.
Sometimes the path to God’s promises can be rocky, and it’s difficult to understand why. Can’t God, in all of his infinite power, pluck us out of our struggles and place us right where we want to be?
If only it were that easy.
If you find yourself in a tough situation while you’re waiting for something God has promised you, you’re in good company.
The apostle Paul, at the time a prisoner, was on his way to Rome to appeal his case to Caesar. On a boat sailing with other prisoners to Italy, Paul advised the men in charge not to set sail because the voyage would be dangerous at that time (Acts 27:9-10). No one listened to Paul, and they continued their journey.
A severe storm began to rage, and the ship was tossed around by the fierce wind. The people on the ship feared they would lose their lives (v. 20).
But God had given a promise to Paul.
He told Paul he would make it to Caesar and that everyone on the ship would survive (v. 24).
That was reassuring news, but it didn’t mean the journey would be easy. They would run aground (v. 26), and the ship would be lost (v. 22).
Even though God had promised they would be saved, He wasn’t going to send an army of angels to pick their ship up out of the water and set them gently down in Italy.
No, they would be shipwrecked on Malta.
Why wasn’t the path to God’s promise easy? It’s difficult to say. But just as God promised, everyone on the ship made it to shore safely (v. 44). While on Malta, God healed many of the residents of diseases through Paul’s prayers (28:9). Because of this visit, most of Malta’s inhabitants were Christians by the third century A.D., and there are around 365 churches on the island today.
During these difficult times, it’s hard to see what the outcome will be. Like the sailors on the ship who tried to escape (27:30), you may want to run. But just as Paul told the people on the ship to “take courage” (v. 25), God is reminding you, “Do not be afraid.”
I’ll leave you with these words from Reepicheep in the film The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
Today’s Thoughts: Where has the path to God’s promises been rocky for you? If you’ve made it through an uncertain time, what insights have you gained from it? How might those insights help you to trust God? What might “taking courage” look like for you during times of trial?