Anchored by Faith

Hebrews 4:14b Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

One of the things I found surprising after I became a mom, was the amazingly calming effect my voice had on my newborns. Whether their cries were born of pain during an immunization or uncomfortable circumstances such as hunger, when I spoke their cries were calmed. My words cut through their pain and assured them it was only temporary. My quiet reassurance reminded them of my past faithfulness; they knew they would eat again.

When they stopped focusing on the person causing them pain or the circumstance of hunger and started focusing on their source of help and hope, their attitude totally changed. Their surroundings had not changed. Their leg still throbbed. Their tummies still rumbled. They could wait for my help because they had the faith to believe it was coming.

This morning I am reading Acts 27:1-26. Paul is setting sail for Rome. Through several ports the trip goes quite smoothly and Paul is even allowed the extra privilege of seeing friends to have his physical needs met (Verse 3). At Myra, Paul is transferred to a new ship.

This new captain makes slow progress which puts the sojourners at the risk of encountering treacherous weather. Paul admonishes the centurion to winter where they are and continue their journey in the spring (Verse 10). Paul's advice is ignored and they sail on right into a hurricane (Verse 14). The storm is relentless and pounds the ship for days. After enduring many days without food, the crew has lost hope of survival.

Paul's faith, though, is unwavering. He stands and encourages the crew and passengers with his bold assurance that God will deliver him to Rome as He promised. He tells them, "Keep up your courage...for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. (Verse 25)"

The courage to face life's challenges is rooted in faith. The courage to weather life's hurricanes is grounded in faith. The courage to continue when a situation seems hopeless is anchored in faith. I want that kind of courage so I need that brand of faith. There are three steps to bolstering my faith hidden in the text.
  • Don't Let People Get in the Middle - Paul found himself in a situation that could have been entirely avoided had the centurion heeded his advice (Verses 10-11). Not only did he not hold it against them but he returns the slight with the kindness of encouragement. As the storm rages on, it is Paul who gives words of calm and strength (Verse 25). When I find myself in a storm manufactured by someone other than myself, it is so tempting to let anger or resentment distract me. All the while, God is standing patiently by for me to choose forgiveness and refocus my attention on Him where it belongs.
  • Stop Focusing on the Storm - Storms are inevitable. Even when Jesus was physically on the earth, He encountered storms (Mark 4:35-40). When Jesus encountered a storm, He didn't stop it, He calmed it. The storm was still there, but it was no longer allowed to negatively impact He and His disciples. I too encounter storms. When I am in one, I can choose to focus on the storm with its' strong winds and driving rain or focus on Jesus, my calm within the storm. Paul knew the storm was only temporary so he chose to focus on God's promise, Rome. Focusing on God's faithfulness calms any storm.
  • Don't Let Circumstances Dictate - Paul was surrounded by hysteria and the bottomless pit of hopelessness. Not only were they in the midst of a hurricane but they hadn't eaten for days (Verse 21). If the hurricane didn't kill them, starvation would. If Paul had let circumstances dictate, he too would have succumb to despair. My circumstances are not my destiny. No matter how bleak my circumstances appear, my actual future is based on God's unchanging goodness and grace.

I have faith (Verse 25). Some days I need to utter those words out loud, to reaffirm my belief that You are my faithful and true travelling companion. I have faith because You are bigger than people. I have faith because You are my calm in the midst of the storm. I have faith because Your story for me is not authored by my circumstances. Jesus, I believe in You.

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