Read Acts 27:33-38: “And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat; for this is for your health: for there shall not a hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.”
I really enjoy this time of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, they will both soon be here! When I think of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about the 103 pilgrims that left Holland on a 106’ vessel called the Mayflower. It took over two full months for those brave people to cross the freezing North Atlantic Ocean, sandwiched between the decks of the ship. History tells us they set sail for Jamestown but were blown off course and ended up at Plymouth Rock. Their first full day in America was recorded as Nov. 12, 1620. They had many difficulties getting into this country.
They couldn’t find a captain who would transport them and when they did find one, he betrayed them and took off with the ship full of their supplies. Some of the pilgrims were imprisoned for religious descent and families had to leave other family members behind. When they finally could set sail, the ship began to leak so they had to go back to the harbor and fix the leak so they wouldn’t sink. The crosswinds blew them off course and they found themselves in a strange land that was just starting winter. Those early pilgrims had the wind against them from the beginning. We as pilgrims on a different type of journey often times find the winds of life against us. We need to stay the course. And have an anchor that holds. We find a similar story about Paul who finds the winds blowing against him too, according to verses four and seven. It was dangerous sailing, with great loss of cargo and dark days where hope seemed to be gone, but there is a great lesson for us today to be encouraged as we often find the winds of life blowing against us. Life’s journey is often times filled with fear, inconvenience, risk and danger. There are those times in our lives when we see dark days and not much promise of hope. What can we do? Four things!
These scriptures give us great insights for facing the winds of life, as Christians. First, we must keep up our courage. Paul urged his fellow passengers, to take heart in verses 22 and 25. Webster’s defines courage as those qualities that enables people to meet danger without giving way to fear. Those pilgrims faced dangers with great courage, so must we! As Christians, we count on Jesus to take us through our dangers. He never promises to deliver us from fiery trials, he promises to go through them with us. One old preacher said – There ain’t much difference between keeping your chin up and sticking your neck out, be sure to know the difference.
Second, as we face the adverse winds of life, we must keep fear in its place. Look what Paul says in verse 24, do not be afraid. What are we afraid of, spiders, snakes, death, maybe our in-laws. Even if the limb breaks, we must not be afraid to go out on a limb, because that is where the fruit is. Fear must be kept in its place.
The second part of verse 24 reminds us that Paul knew God had more plans for him. God has more plans for us too. Even if those plans include a trip to heaven, isn’t that where we’re all supposed to eventually go anyway? Not only do we keep fear in check and keep our courage up, we must also trust in God in complete faith. As Christians, we must never, never, never give up on this idea and belief that we are not alone in this thing called life. All through God’s word we know He exists and is with us. In faith we know that, “All things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” For us to stand in the dark and know that God is light is our faith.
Last of all, let us be mindful to be thankful. Verse 35 says, they gave thanks. History records that Governor William Bradford wrote of the pilgrims, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all perils and miseries thereof and set their feet on firm, stable earth.” After the pilgrims landed, many died of sickness, disease, cold, and starvation, but in 1621, a year later, they acknowledged God’s providence in their lives and had a feast to celebrate God’s faithfulness. It’s called Thanksgiving.
No life is free of trouble. The winds of life will blow against you. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you have a light, a Savior and a very present help in the time of trouble.
If Jesus is not your Savior, you stand alone. It is He who gives us courage, and helps us keep fear in its place. It is He in whom we place our faith and trust and it is Jesus that we must remember to give thanks to. These wonderful holidays will soon be upon us! Check out Jesus for yourself at one of our many churches!