The Eye of the Storm
In a season of suffering, we may question God’s intentions. But sometimes His plans for deliverance are greater than our desire for relief.
When it rains, it pours. This cliché often feels true when trials come one after the other, with no sign of letting up. No matter how many of God’s promises we claim, it may still feel as if He’s letting us drown.
One thing is sure: Whether our hardships are the result of spiritual attacks, consequences of our choices, or simply part of living in a fallen world, they have the potential to reveal what we believe about God and our purpose in life. That’s why it's so important to focus on the Lord during such times and let Him determine how we perceive our circumstances.
READ Acts 27:1-28:10
Before his hazardous sea voyage and shipwreck, the apostle Paul had a clear sense of God’s calling. Although he was a prisoner, his heart was set on testifying in Rome, and it seemed that God was putting the pieces together to make this possible. The apostle had even found favor with Julius, the centurion responsible for taking him there.
While the story ends well (and even miraculously), we need to read between the lines to understand what the experience involved: seemingly endless days on an open sea, the ship tossing, panicked men shouting on deck, water pouring between boards, cargo being hurled overboard in desperation. Prisoners in chains knew that if the boat broke apart, they’d be the first to drown. Having already survived storms and shipwrecks (2 Cor. 11:25-27), Paul had a choice to either draw on the courage he’d gained from those experiences, or to accuse God of cruelty.
Although the bleak narrative is interrupted by the apostle’s prophetic encounter (in which the Lord assures him that no one will die and he will go to Rome), this encouraging word is followed by another 12 days of terrifying circumstances. It’s likely there were at least a few moments when Paul and his travel companion Luke might have wondered why God was taking so long to rescue them as promised.
They were hungry, drenched, and weary from sleepless nights in this stressful environment—the kind of physical suffering that can easily erode spiritual confidence. Even if they’d clung to the Lord’s promise of deliverance till the end of the storm, they possibly still had hours of hanging on to broken boards after the shipwreck and struggling in the cold water to reach shore.
Yet God was at work. Paul and Luke may have been the only Christians on board, but He also cared about the lives of the other prisoners and the Roman soldiers. It’s clear that He was working particularly on Julius’s heart. During those dark weeks at sea (and the following several months on Malta), the two believers had opportunity to share and live out the gospel before this unlikely audience.
When Paul was bitten by a deadly snake after they were finally safe on land, Julius and the others must have wondered why the apostle’s God would allow such a terrible end, especially after all he’d already endured. Yet Paul seemed almost unconcerned. He had been through so much—and known God’s faithfulness so deeply—that nothing superficial could faze him.
The long ordeal was, in essence, an illustration of the message he’d written to the church in Rome: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37). This truth brought him through the storm triumphant—and into the center of God’s great redemptive plans.
REFLECT + EXPLORE
Reflect on these insights from supporting scriptures. If you have time, explore the passages and journal your responses.
1. When we yield to the life and work of Christ in us—even when it involves suffering—His glory is further unveiled in our lives. This is true whether or not we grasp the extent of His power and beauty.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and John 3:29-31. What was behind the joy that Paul and John the Baptist experienced while making sacrifices so others might know Christ?
2. God is always at work in this fallen world, to bring about redemption and transformation.
Read John 12:23-26. While this passage refers to Jesus’ own death, what truth does the image of a seed “dying” beneath the ground’s surface communicate?
3. Even as Jesus took unimaginable suffering upon Himself on the cross, He never lost sight of the joy that was to come.
Read Hebrews 12:1-3. How does considering Jesus’ perspective impact your understanding of how He might be working in the midst of your trials?
Answer the following questions, journaling your thoughts if possible.
• What is God saying to you through your study today?
• What questions do you have about the things you’ve learned? Ask the Lord to reveal greater understanding through prayer and further study, and to help you pay attention to what He shows you in the coming days.
• Write a prayer of response to God.
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