Paul and his shipmates have now been captives of a huge storm for two weeks:
“When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors on the stern and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go” (Ac 27:27-32).
A Nor’easter is a good analogy for our current plague of virus, and like the sailors, we pray for the threat to recede and the sickness to decline. But when the sailors pray, it is likely fervently wishing, since the Godless have no one to pray to.
By contrast, we know that Paul is on the hot line with God 24/7!
Another part of the analogy is hoarding. These Godless sailors have secret plans to hoard the ship’s boat for themselves, leaving everyone else aboard to perish. But Paul can see right through their diversions to their evil intent.
In our times, those who hoard food and other supplies at the expense of their neighbors are every bit as evil as these sailors, and I believe God will judge them in their disunity. Paul would encourage them to repent and stop what they are doing. We are all on the same ship and we cannot take things that could cause another to suffer.
“As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, ‘This is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.’ And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship). And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea” (Ac 27:33-38).
Note that calm and courage carry the day, both for the hurting and the hoarders. Paul loves on them all, encouraging them to eat, and in the process giving public thanks to God before the ship is torn to pieces and they are stranded on an island in the Adriatic Sea.
For us, the American economy is taking a hit and shipwreck may be imminent.
Or not – but we will must row in the rhythm of unity together.
I urge us all to take some spiritual food. As Paul showed, it will give us strength to face what is ahead.
Hurry back for Part 4, to ponder how this preparation on a stormy sea plays out on the island of Malta!