Hebrews 12:1, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us”
We all have moments in life when we get discouraged and go through trials. We might be afflicted by illness or injury, brokenhearted over the loss of a loved one, or disillusioned because our dearest friend has betrayed or rejected us. We may be deeply depressed, or perhaps we’re plagued by loneliness and discouragement. Simply put our trials and circumstances seem more than we can bear. So, how can we handle these circumstances that are beyond our control? We can find answers in the account of the most violent storm experienced in the New Testament. It is described in Acts 27 and it threatened the ship transporting the apostle Paul to Rome. Inside this very moving story are the skills we need to endure the storms than come into our life, such as:
(1) Talk it over with God – (Philippians 4:6). We know that our lives would be deeper and much fuller, and that we would be better prepared to face life’s challenges if we would only talk to God. When you pray, give His Spirit an opportunity to bring peace to your heart and to straighten out your thinking. Many of our troubles can be avoided through obedience to God’s Word (Proverbs 3:1-2).
(2) Get rid of cargo you don’t need – (Acts 27:18-19).
Some of our “extra cargo” may be bad things we have accumulated such as a compromising relationship, an obsession with money, a sinful habit, things we hang on to until a storm exposes how they’re sinking us. There is also good cargo that may have to be abandoned. Many times we tend to accumulate activities that can be helpful if taken separately; nevertheless, if taken together, they’re just too much for us to handle.
(3) Get busy with things that matter – (Acts 27:22-24).
Those “things” that really matter are usually people. With all the pressures to achieve, the people we love can slowly get pushed to the corner of our lives. Our “ship”, the project, the schedule, and the budget, may be lost on the rocks. That is costly, but okay. It’s our people we cannot afford to lose.
(4) Get serious with God – (Acts 27:29-32).
Often our circumstances make us reach for a lifeboat instead of the Lord Jesus. Sorrow can be the means of bringing us heart-to-heart with God. When repeated strokes of adversity have robbed us of health, friends, money, and favorable circumstances, God then becomes the only thing in life for us. My brethren, when we have nothing left but God, we find that God is enough. Psalm 73:25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”
(5) Get back to a healthy routine – (Acts 27:33-36).
As Paul’s ship was about to go aground, he urged the crew to eat. When a strong disturbance batters our ship, our daily routines are usually the first things thrown overboard. However, when we start to miss sleep, meals, and time alone with God, we start sinking. Those healthy routines are what keep us strong on both sunny and stormy days. When God orders up storms in our lives, it is because a change is needed. Usually, the storm is not the real issue from God’s viewpoint. It is an imbalance that has developed in our priorities, sometimes so subtle that we can’t see it until turbulence gets our attention.
When our journey in life gets too tough to navigate, 2 Corinthians 1:9 is a great reminder to us that we don’t travel alone. We have the help of the One who showed us His power in the resurrection, and who will demonstrate His power again when He raises believing loved ones of all generations to eternal life. Our strength, hope, trust and faith have to be in Christ alone. That my brethren, is a truth we all need as we travel life’s journey that God has placed before us.
Thus, our eyes are to be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, not on our circumstances. We are to live above the shadows of fear and bask in the sunlight of our faith and to trust in the living and resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ. Even though we may have a long list of troubles, which may be beyond our circumstances, faith’s answer to that must always be, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:18), because “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:2).
The storms of life remind us to take shelter in the loving arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ.