A Messenger of Hope
Bible Reading: Acts 27:13-44
It was called the Great Coastal Gale of 2017. With winds of over 100 miles it caused massive damage to our church building, ultimately costing about $950,000 in repairs. It blew off all the church roofing, put a hole in the roof, and “racked” the church building. For months the church family met for services in a small undamaged portion of the building while repairs were being made. But those repairs were delayed for several months while important decisions were made about the extent of the needed repairs. The building was well insured, but there was a $100,000 limit on any required building code upgrades. The local building codes department was indecisive. So we were stuck. But we were praying. The state finally sent a man who joined me and the local building code officials on a tour of the building. That man decisively waived most of the proposed code upgrades, thus allowing the work to proceed. Before he left that day, he met privately with me in the Fellowship Hall. He asked if it’d be okay if he prayed for me and for the church. He put his arm around my shoulder and we prayed together for the progress of our repairs. I found out later that the man was a fellow believer, and was even a member of the Gideon’s. His visit allowed for the building repairs to proceed, which were ultimately completed months later just in time for the church’s 50th anniversary! That man was to us a messenger of hope.
In Acts Chapter 27 we read of another “messenger of hope.” The chapter records the events surrounding the shipwreck of the ship carrying the Apostle Paul to Rome. Paul held no position on board that ship, he wasn’t the captain, pilot, or even a member of the crew. But things would have turned out much different if he’d not been on board. Paul was a man of faith, filled with and being led by the Spirit. When the decision was made to leave Fair Havens, Paul counseled against it (Acts 27:9-10). Tragically, “the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship than to what Paul said” (Acts 27:11). The ship sailed on.
The Apostle Paul prayed for and encouraged his shipmates. As Paul had predicted, the voyage met with difficulty. “A tempestuous wind, called the northeaster” (Acts 27:14), began to blow causing the ship to be driven along without recourse. The crew jettisoned overboard the cargo and then the ship’s tackle. “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:20). So Paul encouraged the men with a message of hope (Acts 27:22-25). The Apostle Paul witnessed by his actions. He gave specific instructions as to what the men were to do once they approached land (Acts 27:30-32). After fourteen suspenseful days without food, Paul urged the men to eat (Acts 27:34a). He reminded them again of God’s watch care over them (Acts 27:34b-36). From an earthly perspective, Paul was a nobody on board that ship. But in reality there was no one onboard more important. As a man of faith in God he had connections! He was a man of hope, amidst a crew of those without any.
He did things that we all, as believers, can do as we interact with others. He walked by, and was led by, the Spirit. He befriended folks and proved himself trustworthy. He prayed for and encouraged his companions. He led by example as he trusted in God in the midst of his own difficulties. He brought hope to those having none. You’ve hope, believer, by way of your faith in God and the Spirit who indwells you. Others are lacking what you have. By God’s grace, you can be a messenger of hope to others, as we sail through the storm-tossed seas of uncertainty in this troubled world!
The Hope You Have in Jesus is Meant to Be Shared
Heavenly Father. We praise You as the God of hope! How many times have we found ourselves in a hopeless situation, but then You somehow intervened to rescue us! And how many times have we been encouraged through the words or actions of fellow believer! Thank you for all the ways in which You work to impart hope to us when we need it. Grant us the wisdom and compassion to notice when others in our lives are experiencing some kind of distress, and the words to encourage them as we together look to You! Amen.