The first part of this passage reminds me of a road trip journal. We are seeing various ports in the Mediterranean Sea that give us an idea of Paul's journey to Rome.
The trouble with the storm reminds me of Jonah's flight to Tarshish. While it is clear that Paul is sailing to Rome on behalf of God's call on his life, Jonah had done the opposite. God was the one behind the storms in Jonah's day as we see in Jonah 1:4-6:
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”Jonah seems to have a sense of calm about him even when running from God! He's able to sleep through the storm and had to be awakened. We find that Jonah's answer will be to save the ship and crew through sacrificing himself by jumping into the raging waters.
Paul doesn't make this same offer, likely because he doesn't see the storm as a stumbling block from God. We do see them throw the cargo overboard as the mariners did in Jonah's day. God's message to Paul is that everyone is going to live through this ordeal.
We also remember that Jesus slept through a storm on the waters. We see it in Luke 8:22-25:
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”While Paul has worked miracles including exorcisms, healing and even raising one from the dead, he evidently doesn't have authority over the waves as Jesus did. I'm sure it wasn't for lack of prayer!
|I feel like I'm waiting for the rainbow|
at the end of the storm.
We remember that when the storms rage, we turn to our faith. We would like for Jesus to wake up and rebuke the pandemic. Barring that, we would like to hear a word like Paul's that says, "I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you" and "God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you."
Ultimately, we will make it through this. It will be difficult. We will likely be touched by grief and loss. But we remember that God sails with us. And every age has its storms.
Prayer for the day:
Lord, our heavenly Father, who orders all things for our eternal good, mercifully enlighten our minds, and give us a firm and abiding trust in your love and care. Silence our murmurings, quiet our fears, and dispel our doubts, that rising above our afflictions and our anxieties, we may rest on you, the rock of everlasting strength. Amen.
Prayer from New Church Book of Worship, 1876
Photo by Rob Romard via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.
All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.