(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Drowning - Part 2
1st March 2014
Two weeks ago, we looked at the story of when Jesus and the disciples were crossing a lake, and a sudden storm caused them to cry out "teacher, don't you care if we drown?" (Mark 4v35-41). Many years later, Paul and Luke were sailing across the Mediterranean Sea. Luke writes:
Luke must surely have known the story from Mark 4. He would have heard all the gospel stories many times, and he wrote his own version of that story in Luke 8v22-25. So it's interesting that, in another storm, he as well as his companions gave up all hope of being saved. If the Mark story tells us anything, surely it tells us that no storm is so great that Jesus can't calm it. There's always hope for those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And Luke was a well-taught, mature, experienced Christian. During his travels with Paul he must have seen many signs and wonders, and heard of many more. But at the height of the storm all the things we've learnt, and all the experiences we've had, can desert our minds. Sometimes, all we can think about is the situation we're in. We have faith in God, but we forget to put it to use. We forget to have faith in God. Storms can do that to a person.
I don't know if Paul was amongst those who gave up all hope but, if he did, he soon recovered his composure:
It seems a bit sad that Paul had to start his speech with "I told you so". He had a point; we shouldn't lightly disregard the advice of those in spiritual authority. In my experience, though, no-one is more loved for pointing out how right he is and how wrong everybody else is.
But then Paul told them about his encounter with an angel. God had been merciful to Paul, and to them all. He'd sent the angel to promise Paul that they would all be saved. We don't often speak face-to-face with angels, but then we're not often in a situation as desperate as the one in that boat.
God knows what we need. They didn't just need the boat to hold together long enough for them to reach land. They also needed hope. And God gave them that hope through the angel's message.
And we can read in verses 27-44 how they were, indeed, all saved.
Sometimes, when we can't find a way out of the storm, it's hope that keeps us going. Whatever storm you're experiencing right now, however far away your faith and your theology and your memories of God's help seem to be, God will send you enough hope to carry on. Many years before, Paul wrote this to the church in Thessalonica:
1 Thessalonians 1v3
Sometimes, God-given hope is all we seem to have left. In God's mercy, He gives us enough hope to keep going. And, ultimately, our hope comes in this promise: