With winds of over 130 mph and more than 51 inches of rain, Harvey invaded Texas as a category 4 hurricane. We saw the images—vehicles swamped, families clawing for higher ground on furniture in their own homes, and others waving white flags from housetops. At the end of this week none of us need to be reminded that water can bring terror. What happens when the gale blows, the rain keeps falling, and the sun and moon disappear for days?
There were 276 souls on board the Apostle Paul’s ship on the way to Rome when the hurricane hit. The sailors and passengers did everything they could to ride out the storm, but when the storm raged on, their hope became a candle in the wind.
“And running under the small island called Cauda, and sheltered some from the violent wind, we were finally able with great effort to secure the small lifeboat. After hoisting it up, the sailors took steps to undergird the ship. Fearing that they would run aground on the shifting sandbanks of the gulf of Syrtis, they dropped the sea anchor, and then allowed the ship to drift. But after a night’s battering by the storm, the next day they began to throw some of the cargo overboard; and on the third day with their own hands they threw overboard the ship’s tackle. When neither the sun or the stars showed themselves for many a day and the storm kept pounding us, finally, it was started to extinguish any hope the we would be saved.” Acts 27:16-20
Mary and I texted our friends in Houston as soon as the reports started coming in about Harvey. We prayed as one of our friends spent the night with his elderly mom, and were relieved the next morning when we got word that she remained safe and dry. Obviously, thousands and thousands were not so fortunate. Though the sun came out again in Houston, the receding of the muddy waters kept revealing the devastation, and the loss, despair, and feelings of hopelessness intensified.
Paul was one of the Lord’s most trusted servants, yet as we move toward the climax of Acts, Luke is honest about the hopeless despair that began to attack their souls as for days and days the storm kept pounding. In next week’s Devos we’ll track the rest of the story and discover how Paul and his shipmates fare. But this weekend I want us to stop and pray for all those whose hope is flickering like a candle in the wind.
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