Arrested and roughed up, Paul sat in jail, wondering what would happen next. He might be executed, or maybe beaten with the cat-of-nine-tails, or he might languish in prison interminably. Even then, Paul trusted his Master. “The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Have courage! For as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so it is necessary for you to testify in Rome’ ” (Acts 23:11).
So, two years later, when Paul finally boarded a ship headed for Rome, he was confident that he would arrive safely.
Paul wasn’t a novice traveler. He knew the dangers that might await him. More than two years earlier, he had written his friends at Corinth, “five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea” (2 Corinthians 11:24–25).
Paul knew how dangerous sea-travel could be, but he trusted the Lord. He could still hear Jesus’ words ringing in his ear, “It is necessary for you to testify in Rome!”
“When it was decided that we (notice the plural pronoun) were to sail to Italy, they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion named Julius, of the Imperial Regiment” (Acts 27:1). Paul wasn’t alone. He was guarded by Julius, there were other prisoners, and his personal physician, Dr. Luke, was at his side.
They weren’t traveling on a mega-sized, four-thousand-passenger Royal Caribbean Cruise-Liner, but they weren’t in a rowboat either. As they approached Malta, “there were 276 ... on the ship” (Acts 27:37).
Even their relatively large ship wasn’t a match for the winter winds. “A fierce wind called the ‘northeaster’ rushed down from the island. Since the ship was caught and unable to head into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along”(Acts 27:14–15). Their only hope was to lighten the load, so soon the crew was busy tossing both cargo and the ship’s tackle overboard.
Once again, the Lord sent Paul a message of hope. Having heard the promise, Paul declared, “I urge you to take courage, because there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship. For last night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. It is necessary for you to appear before Caesar. And indeed, God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.’ So take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me. But we have to run aground on some island” (Acts 27:22–26).
God is the Great Promise-Keeper. Paul and his companions were ship-wrecked, but safe. Three months later they sailed to Rome.
There’s a lesson here. Trust the Lord’s promises! Though the journey might be rough, you can trust him. You’ll arrive safely, just like He promised!