And so it was that all were brought safely to land. - Acts 27:44
Why Do We Doubt God's Sovereign Care for His People?
Sometimes I find it helpful to ask probing questions of Scripture. For example, in today's passage:
- Why did God rescue these people in this way?
- What if God didn't save them and the ship sank?
- Why save all the prisoners and not just Paul?
Probing questions can be helpful, as long as we always turn to Scripture for the answers. If we are committed to consulting the context and to interpreting Scripture by Scripture, we will have safe guides for our questions. So with these guides in place, we can go back to those probing questions:
- Why did God rescue these people in this way? He did so because it best glorified Himself and revealed His power to preserve and save His people. He not only wanted to get Paul to Rome, but He wanted to show Himself to Paul's shipmates along the way as the true God who rescues.
- What if God didn't save them and the ship sank? God would only have done that if it had been better for His glory and for the good of His people. Thus, He would only have allowed the ship to sink and the people to be lost if He had a greater good in view.
- Why save all the prisoners and not just Paul? God clearly shows in His word that the blessings He gives His people overflow to the unbelievers around them.
These probing questions, as we ask them, begin to expose some of our own hidden assumptions and fears, don't they? The second question especially gets to the heart of what we wonder often: Why doesn't God always rescue from harm? One person is wondrously protected and cured from cancer while another person dies from the same cancer. Both are believers. Why? In the end, we cannot answer that question for certain, but we do have to trust that God knows that He is doing, has not fallen asleep at the wheel, and that He continues to always do what is ultimately best for His glory and the good of His people.
Sometimes our ship is stuck against the reef and is breaking apart and we wonder where God is and what He is doing. Sometimes we feel so desperate that we think we're going to die, and it is often at those times that God is most present and active, preserving life and displaying His sovereign goodness. When the soldiers were in full panic, God was saving their lives. We need to remember that.
Heavenly Father, You are Lord of all and You are good. Let us never forget that, no matter what our circumstances may look like to us. May we always rest in peace, knowing that we are always in Your loving hands, no matter what. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Prayer Based on Proverbs 28:10-18:
Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way
will fall into his own pit,
but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.
A rich man is wise in his own eyes,
but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.
Lord, may we never be the cause of misleading Your people,
but may we be those who have and display understanding,
never wise in our own eyes, but only in Your grace.
When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
Father, we confess that we sin often,
for we are weak and prone to wander.
Forgive us and make us a blessing to others.
May we never harden our hearts in our sin,
but may we fear You and walk in humility before You always.
Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
If one is burdened with the blood of another,
he will be a fugitive until death;
let no one help him.
Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.
Lord, we live in an unjust society,
where the blood of the innocent is spilled daily.
How do we think we will escape Your judgment?
Have mercy on the unborn and their mothers,
and save our land from crooked ways.
In Jesus' name, Amen.