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Magazine > Content

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?

 

RESPOND

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.

 

Find more Bible studies online here.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


11 comments
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  • November 18, 2013 02:35 PM

    by

    InTouch articles and the magazine have been such a blessing to me during this time of testing and trial. It is hard to be still with God, it seems counter-productive to not be moving forward or progressing in life. But I have learned through this time that it is God's will sometimes to "set us aside" in life so that we can be quiet enough to listen and learn from Him. It is not that God is stopping me from living life but that He is preparing me to live life - at the fullest. This time with Him is preparation for the next chapter. InTouch has helped me learn this and grow closer to the Lord. If you haven't yet read Dr. Stanley's new book Emotions, I highly recommend it!!! It has helped me see ways that my relationship with God is hindered and how to overcome these barriers to my faith.
  • November 13, 2013 09:18 PM

    by

    Thank you for being a beacon for God. I watch you every Sunday and enjoy your sermons that give me guidance and strength in trying times.
  • November 13, 2013 12:39 PM

    by

    Prayers and praises can change your thoughts....God is lining you up for your break through..he has a plan and a purpose for all of us. Storms come to make you stronger..Just say thank you...be blessed.
  • June 23, 2013 12:39 PM

    by

    We give what little we can, each month, but knowing God will multiply it. We can feel the blessings generated in return! You can not out give God!
  • June 13, 2013 06:54 PM

    by

    I thank all for your posting.I am in a storm and it helps having my loving father at my side.
  • June 08, 2013 02:28 PM

    by

    Our Father,Jesus, and Holy spirit you are what you said you are in the bible.Your will and ways are for our own good.You are our God, Saviour and Lord.I believe and trust you in goodtime and hardtime,in richer and poorer, in health and sickness nothing separate us.You are faithful,Your love for us is unexplainable so deep that amazes me.Thank you so much for having relationship with us ,your amazing .
  • June 07, 2013 06:59 AM

    by

    Thank you for all you and your team does. For 3 yrs we have driven 4 hrs each Monday so we could take our grandson Cannon to a Christian School be there for him in the afternoon. His dad left them when he was 2. I drive him to school each morning, listening to Intouch at 7:30. Its exhausting and expensive. God has been so faithful but many times we are just exhausted as we spend our only 2 days at home. We know we are doing Gods will and He has provided. Our grandson woukd be in day care 12 hrs a dsy if we didnt do this. She knows the Lord and gives to your ministry each month. We are praying for a Godly husband. We are going to start our 4th yr doing this. God has provided resources through our business and encouragement though your ministry.....God bless each of you. marijane
  • June 06, 2013 09:48 PM

    by

    I will pray for you. Even during our storms we must hold on and praise him. I needed to read your comment because I am in the midst of a storm and I needed that reminder also.

    THANK YOU
  • June 06, 2013 12:53 PM

    by

    Fear and anxiety about the uncertainty that lies ahead are truly the hardest to overcome. The previous post is spot on my situation. When I think about how much worse it could be it doesn't help and when I try to rationalize what God is trying to do in this situation - it doesn't help either. In these times the only thing we can do is cling to God's grace and place our trust in Him and look back on all of the times when He has come through for us and to do our best to please Him with how we handle the situation. He will come through and there will be a break through and we will see that He does have a plan for our lives and has from the beginning. This too will pass. Hold on - God is good and His purposes will be revealed in His perfect timing. Praise be to King Jesus!
  • June 05, 2013 04:41 PM

    by

    I've been going through a particularly difficult time and in desperation one night I cried out to God asking why He'd left me. I felt like He wasn't hearing my prayer. I couldn't feel His presence. I asked for a sign that He was indeed there and the situation is in His hands. The very next day I accessed this site to make my monthly donation and this message spoke to me. There was also a similar message waiting in my mailbox at home from In Touch. Its so hard to truly let go of the fear and anxiety, but these teachings are showing me how to do that. Thank you Dr. Stanley. You've given me something to cling to during this storm.
  • June 04, 2013 08:27 AM

    by

    Thank you!

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