4.) Faith For Stormy Times
No storm is too great for the simple anchor which God places well within the reach of every Christian.
By Rev. Oliver W. Price
This age may go down in history as the generation that sought peace of mind more than peace with God. The hovering shadows of war, the upheaval of society reflected in broken homes and the pace of living, especially in congested cities, are among the many factors contributing to the restless search for mental health.
While the world has busily applied itself to meeting this growing need, many Christians have failed to discern that the Word of God contains clear provisions for the tensions of daily living. The faith by which we are saved should not be forgotten after conversion. God intends for the believer to continue the new life by faith (Col. 2:6).
Three times in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit emphasizes that
"The just shall live by faith."
Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38
The stress in Romans is on "the just," teaching us that we are made righteous through faith. In Galatians the emphasis shifts to "shall live," reminding us that having begun in the Spirit we are not to be perfected in the flesh (Gal. 3:3). And Hebrews dwells on the principle found in the last phrase, "by faith."
Paul did not stop with preaching faith, he practiced it. Even as a prisoner in Rome he was able to write to the Philippians,
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6, 7 A.S.V.)
Earlier he had given a demonstration of that same important truth in Acts 27. He was on his way to Rome, a prisoner, when a violent storm arose, threatening the ship and all on board. The story is a study in contrasts. We see a man of faith in the midst of natural men. Against this background the path of the just is a shining light
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18)
The wisdom of faith counseled against continuing the voyage into the dangerous hurricane season which had begun (vv. 9, 10). Paul could not speak as a seaman, but he could offer the insight which he gained from his constant practice of prayer. The man who walks by faith learns to find the will of God before he takes each step. This is quite different from making our plans and then seeking God's blessing on them. But the centurion scorned the wisdom that is from above, choosing instead the opinion of men who should have known (v. 11).
The tempest that followed drowned natural hope and set the stage for a display of faith. Hope that is anchored in things that are seen cannot endure the storms of life.
And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away." (v.20)
A lone voice broke the deathly silence imposed by fear. Paul had a message of comfort from the Lord,
And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship."
Here we see the difference between happiness and the joy of faith. Happiness rests on the shaky foundation of the things that "happen." How quickly it lets us down in a crisis. Only joy anchored in the steadfast promises of God can rise above the circumstances that so often depress us. Paul, waiting on God, had received assurance that he and his fellow passengers would survive the storm (vv. 23, 24).
There was no hint in the dark sky or churning waters that the tempest was beginning to subside, but Paul expressed confidence that all would be well (v. 25). He had learned to trust God implicitly.
The natural man knows by observation, experiment and reason. The Christian says,
"Through faith we understand." (Heb. 11:3)
When man chose his own course in the Garden of Eden he cut himself off from the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge and limited himself to that which his own senses could discern. Faith learns to draw upon the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ and to rest upon this light with greater confidence than the natural mind has in the findings of science. This is the certainty of faith.
It is not enough to go around telling our acquaintances that we believe God. The sailors were not convinced until they saw a demonstration of faith. Paul pled with them to eat, insisting that
there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you." (v.34)
"Finally, he thanked God in their presence and began to eat. When they saw this quiet display of faith,
Then were they all of good cheer." (v. 36)
Although the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, Paul's life of faith had impressed the centurion. He therefore ordered all the prisoners to be spared in order to save the life of Paul (vv. 42, 43).
As we see Paul floating ashore on a broken piece of ship, it might seem that he shared the tragedy of the others who did not have faith. But while his faith had not kept him from the shipwreck, it had preserved him in it.
Since men live together under the same government, since believers and unbelievers work in the same factories, and sometimes one marriage partner is saved before the other; we are all likely to be linked through no fault of our own with men who do not trust God. This need not frustrate our own fellowship with the Lord nor hinder faith's sure results. As Paul's experience shows, faith is not overcome when surrounded by unbelief or cast into a tempest, but only shines brighter in the darkness.
The late Dr. P. B. Fitzwater, who taught Bible Doctrine at Moody Bible Institute for nearly forty-one years, made a remarkable statement after the accidental death of his 29-year-old son:
God is infinitely wise, therefore He cannot err; omnipotent, therefore nothing can take place without His permission; absolutely just, therefore He can do no wrong; absolutely good, therefore He cannot be unkind."
The late Andrew Murray whose books have blessed so many wrote the following statement of faith:
In times of trouble God's trusting child may say:
First: He brought me here;
it is by His will I am in this strait place:
in that I will rest.
Next: He will keep me here in His love,
and give me grace in this trial to
behave as His child.
Then: He will make the trial a blessing,
teaching me the lessons He intends
me to learn, and working in me the
grace He means to bestow.
Last: In His good time He can bring me
out again...how and when He knows.
Say: I am here...
By God's Appointment.
In His keeping.
In His keeping.
For His time.
And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
Copyright 2001 by Rev. Oliver W. Price. All rights reserved.