Sometimes as we deal with the new realities of semi-isolation, working and learning from home, and physical distancing, it’s hard not to feel just a bit overwhelmed as we try to figure out how to perform our old roles in new ways. Maybe we have new daily routines to establish, new technologies to master, or even new responsibilities to perform. And because all these circumstances are new, we might not feel like we’ve got things quite under control, so we feel anxious and wonder how we’re going to get through it all.
In life, there are always things that are beyond our control such as the decisions our leaders make, or the way other people behave or react to change, among so many others. But there are many other things we can control, such as how we prepare our hearts and minds to face the day, the amount of effort we put into the activities we engage in, and of course, the attitude with which we approach our lives. As Christians, it is important to remember that our identity remains in Jesus Christ, independent of any other actions or outcomes.
In reading through the book of Acts, in particular the journeys of St. Paul, it’s hard to not be impressed by his faith and perseverance. At the point in his life that is written about in Acts 27, Paul finds himself a prisoner onboard a ship enroute to stand trial before Caesar. It was a difficult voyage right from the start and Paul tries to warn the ship’s masters about the weather, but they ignore his advice and sail on. The weather turns worse and becomes a hurricane, driving them out to sea. In the middle of this dangerous crossing, God reveals to Paul that he and the ship’s crew would be safe, so Paul encouraged the crew, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me”. (Vs 25). Then further into their journey, Paul encourages them to eat something to keep up their strength because they had been so worried that they hadn’t eaten anything. “ After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.” (Vs 35-36) Despite having thrown the cargo and ship’s tackle overboard to lighten the load, their ship did eventually break apart as they ran aground, but miraculously everyone survived, just as God had told Paul.
In this account of Paul’s journey, we see examples of things that were out of his control, but ultimately God promised him that he and the crew would survive. Paul couldn’t control the weather or whether the leaders would listen to his advice, but with God’s strength, Paul was able to trust Him with the plan that He had for his life.
As followers of Christ, we too can trust God with our lives. With His help, we can shift our focus from the things we can’t control, to the opportunities that God has right in front of us to share in His love and faithfulness.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to not live in fear of the current or future storms, but to always look for You whenever we ﬁnd ourselves in one. We thank You for not letting us face them alone, and ask for Your help to draw strength from Your promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.