Revelation for Liberation
Vs. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
“After winter comes the summer. After night comes the dawn. And after every storm, there comes clear open skies” so said a Scottish clergyman from the 1600s. It’s been said, that hope can sometimes be the most dangerous weapon. However, it’s sometimes the hardest weapon to carry when you’re living with the loss of a loved one, something that almost feels like a terrible nightmare that’ll never go away. It’s a weapon difficult to carry when day in and day out no one seems to hear or see those tears that are shed or silent cries that are made during a heartfelt prayer. It’s a weapon difficult to carry as you see your loved one lying on that hospital bed. It’s a weapon difficult to carry as you search and seek out answers to tell a child as to why they’ve been abused, abandoned, and neglected throughout their life. Sometimes in order to carry such a weapon, other tools and assets need to be left aside, as was the case for our sailors in today’s passage.
In today’s passage, we see Paul, as a prisoner, on his way to Rome to stand on trial before Caesar. Before such a climatic scene, we’re given a subplot of where we find Roman soldiers, sailors, merchants, and other prisoners along with Paul, stuck on a ship in the midst of a disastrous storm. In the attempt to save their lives and avoid shipwreck, those onboard began to discard the cargo, the very items they once deemed precious and of worth, was now discarded as useless baggage that if kept would only bring harm. It even came to the point where parts of the ship were getting discarded as well. However, even after discarding and abandoning whatever they could, with the absence of light and direction (since neither sun nor stars, which were often used as sources of direction, appeared for many days) those on board finally began to let go of their last weapon, hope. How does one maintain hope when what you see, hear, and feel is death right before your eyes?
In such a pivotal moment, comes our seemingly harmless prisoner Paul who first admonishes the men for not heeding his advice and then assures them of their safety by revealing his encounter with an angel. Initially Julius, the centurion in charge, had chosen to take faith in the professionals, the ship owner and pilot. However at this point when all had lost hope and even the will to sustain themselves, to hear that there is a God who would provide for their safety beyond their capabilities must have reignited that sense of hope. Paul held onto his hope and faith in Christ, which allowed him to be a source of light and direction in the midst of darkness and hopelessness. Sometimes in order to hold onto the weapon of hope, we need to abandon those comforts of life that continue to weigh us down and keep us away from seeking the true source of hope. Sometimes in order to acknowledge the grace, strength and presence of God in life’s greatest and darkest storms, we need to acknowledge our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Are we willing to hope despite the circumstances? Are we willing to trust Him who is the Way to Truth and Life in the midst of life’s inevitable shipwrecks?
Father God, we thank you for the New Year. May this be a time for us to renew our spiritual discipline, discipleship and the family-life, feeling confident that on the day of Jesus Christ, God will bring our life to its consummation. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Will we choose to abandon our comforts and goods for eternal security or will we shipwreck our conscience and relationship with God himself for the sake of earthly
Sherine Thomas, Long Island MTC, NY
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church