How to Persevere When Life is Severe
Have you ever watched any big-budget, Hollywood disaster movies? I’ve watched a lot of them… from The Towering Inferno to The Day After Tomorrow. The plots are generally pretty outlandish, but they’re always entertaining because they keep you on the edge of your seat! Acts 27 reads like a Hollywood disaster movie script; but it’s a true story!
As the Apostle Paul makes his way to Rome to have his case heard by Caesar, he finds himself in the middle of a perilous, “disastrous” journey. Along the way, we pick up some valuable insights for how to persevere when life is severe!
1) Count on God always knowing and providing for your needs! (Acts 27:1-3)
Julius, the centurion guarding Paul, allowed Paul’s friends in Sidon to “provide for his needs.” Julius certainly didn’t have to do that, but he kindly did. When we’re in a severe season, God can and will use fellow Believers to come alongside us to provide for our needs. Serving one another, giving to one another, loving one another through severe seasons in life is how Christ-followers provide for one another… and it’s what the Church does really well! Is there someone you know who is in a severe season these days; how might you help “provide for their needs?” (Matthew 5:16)
2) Recognize that sometimes the severe season you’re in is not your fault. (Acts 27:9-12)
Sometimes it helps to know that you are not to blame for this season… Paul is about to sail into a horrific storm with devastating consequences and it wasn't his choice; in fact, he was adamantly opposed to it. Sometimes the severe season you find yourself in is not of your making; it’s the result of someone else’s poor choice. But God can work, even in those severe seasons, offering strength and hope when all seems lost. (James 1:12). Someone shared something with me a couple weeks ago that I’ve used several times since. He said, “Pastor, you can’t have a testimony without a test.” When you face a tough test and persevere with the Lord’s help, you’ll have a powerful testimony!
3) Replace fear with faith when all hope seems lost. (Acts 27:13-26)
God told Paul exactly what was going to happen and that all aboard would be saved! God commanded Paul: “Do not not be afraid!” This is one of the most often repeated commands in the Bible! How do we combat fear? By replacing fear with faith! (Psalm 56:3; Mark 4:40; Hebrews 13:5b)
4) Steer clear of panic to avoid rash, foolish decisions. (Acts 27:30-32)
The crew was panicking, trying to take the life boat and escape! When we’re in a severe season in life, it’s easy to push the panic button; but that won’t help the situation. In fact, it creates chaos and confusion. When you sense panic, pray. When you feel like you’re about to hit the panic button, then hit your knees, and pray. If you’re panicking, then you’re not praying! The antidote to panic is prayer! (Psalm 88:1)
5) Stay calm and carry on! (Acts 27:34-44)
Yeah, I ripped that point off from Winston Churchill who famously said it to encourage his fellow Brits during WW II; but Paul modeled it 2000 years earlier during his perilous experience. How could Paul be so calm in a situation like this? The source of Paul’s calm and assurance was his faith! Paul found solace, strength, and calm in his faith… faith that the Lord would do exactly as He promised. (Hebrews 11:1)
When you’re at a place in life where all hope seems lost - when you can’t clearly see an out - the question to ask is not “what can I see,” but “what do I believe?” Is my hope (no doubt) in the Lord? Is my assurance in the Lord? Is my confidence in the Lord? When your faith is in Him, you can stay calm and carry on, just like the Apostle Paul!
In the end, not one soul was lost on that ship… a ship that Paul advised should never have set sail; that sailed through a hurricane; that floated adrift for weeks; that ultimately was crushed and split apart by crashing waves trapped just off land… but everyone survived, just as the Lord had promised. Paul persevered through a severe, disastrous journey… and we can too!
For much more, click here to listen to: Multiply - Part 21 - How to Persevere When Life is Severe.