Yet now I urge you to Keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
The majority is not always right. God is always right. In v12 the captain and the pilot of the ship (the experts) along with the majority of the people sailing decided to sail even though they had been warned of the danger.
People will not follow someone who is miserable or someone who panics. When the storms hit, the sailors did what they knew how to do; they battened the hatches, they tied the boat, they lightened the load by throwing things overboard, and they threw anchors to help drag the boat. Interesting enough, although Paul was not a sailor, they listened to him during this time. Paul remained calm. He was encouraging. He was a prisoner, yet he commanded authority.
When our lives are in a “storm”, we cannot rely on human wisdom. Paul was not a sailor, yet the sailors listened to him. Paul was a prisoner, yet the centurion guarding him listened to him. Paul was not an expert on sailing or how to survive a shipwreck or anything that a sailor would normally rely on to survive in this situation. There was really no reason for the sailors or anyone else to listen to him. But Paul was an expert on listening to God and following His guidance. Paul remained calm and encouraged others because he had turned to God during this time. He was in prayer and was listening to God speak through angels. Paul knew who the real expert was that could deliver everyone from the storm. It didn’t take knowledge of sailing or human wisdom on how to navigate through the bad weather. It took trust. It took faith. And it took obeying God.
Sometimes we are the lead actors in a play, other times we are the supporting cast. In v24, the angel told Paul that he must “stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you’. The pilot, captain, centurion and sailors were all part of the action, the “play” if you will, but they did not play the leading role.
It is the difficult times when leaders are needed the most. Right now, Christianity is experiencing difficult times. Christians are being persecuted in many parts of the world. There are more unchurched people in our local community. In the US views and opinions are moving further “left”. Christian groups are being shut out of public schools and universities while liberal organizations are encouraged and applauded for their open mindedness.
I must remember to stay calm and encouraging even during difficult times. If anyone had a right to be miserable or disheartened, it was Paul. He had been beating, whipped, stoned, jailed for years yet he was the one trying to encourage the sailors. There was no mention of the captain or pilot doing anything other than ordering the sailors to react. It was Paul that the centurion listened to and the sailors listened to that saved everyone.
I must realize others are often watching and basing their reaction on my reaction. People have a tendency to react based on how their leaders react and how others around them act. If the leader is calm, others are calmer. If a leader panics, others are surely going to panic as well. Like others, we must realize our role. Realize what part God wants us to play and then do everything we can do to fulfill those expectations.
Father, help me to rely on You. Help us to rely on Your wisdom and not our own. Help me to seek your comfort in times of trouble and need and to have the assurance and confidence that You, and only you, will help us through difficult times.