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#Arise Assured

by: Kolleen Lucariello

As the ministry of Activ8Her sails with Paul across the stormy Mediterranean Sea, more and more I discover I am capable of throwing out anchors but, depending on the intensity of the storm, I can also doubt the strength of the anchor. When doubt sets in there's no telling how crushed I might become by the stormy situation engulfing me.

I imagine this is where Paul and his shipmates found themselves when the weather Paul had actually expressed his concern over began its violent assault on them. They had hoped they'd beat the bad weather. They hoped they could outrun it. They hoped they'd survive the tumultuous conditions of the sea. But, after days of brutal conditions they lost their ability to hope. This is when I am likely to throw my hands up and give in to defeat.

I found myself tossed by waves of conviction when I read how Paul stood up while the storm still raged on and made the announcement they could keep their courage. Wow! Paul, who actually had prepared himself and the others for a disastrous end to this voyage, changed his entire outlook because God sent His Word through his angel messenger. His encounter with the presence of God gave him the courage to stand up and say, “So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said” (Acts 27:25, NLT).

One word from God and Paul was assured that he could believe the words God had spoken to him regardless of the battering storm around him. One moment in the presence of God and he was certain that it was going to turn out just as God said. And what had God said?

He told Paul not to be afraid because he had plans for him. Not only did he have plans for Paul, but he had "graciously granted Paul the safety of all who were sailing with him" (vs 24, NET).

The men hadn't abandoned ship, they'd abandoned hope. Doubt sounds a lot like a deafening wind as it howls, "You've been forgotten." The men on the boat had to rely on Paul's belief that they could trust the word God had spoken and that he would spare their lives. Sometimes we need to trust someone else's faith when storms try to drown us. Chrissy and I have giggled with gratitude that we don't struggle at the same time. When one feels like she's going under, the other is there to throw out the life preserver.

God also prepared the men for what was going to come—they were going to run aground on some island. Could God have stopped the storm? Absolutely. But, that's not what he'd told Paul. Running aground was going to damage the ship and leave them stranded. Without the cargo they'd already tossed overboard. Yuck. That sounds unpleasant, doesn't it? I don't like discomfort, do you? I'd prefer the storm would stop rather than run aground when life's unpleasantries rattle my faith. The disappointment of unanswered prayer can certainly cause faith to feel shipwrecked. Or the failure of someone we trust. We may also spend time in unfamiliar territory as we sort through our doubts. Yet, Paul found assurance within God's promise to be present with them even if they were stranded on an unknown island.

After fourteen days Paul recognized it was time to strengthen themselves physically—time to eat, boys! Paul assured them nourishing themselves was important for their survival. It's equally important for us, too. I know well how a bad day physically can have a huge impact on my ability to function well spiritually. Be assured that it is God's desire for you to care for yourself.

Finally, Paul did what can be difficult for me to remember when I am stuck in a storm. He offered gratitude to God in front of everyone. Because he did so, they were all encouraged by his expression of thanks. How often do we offer gratitude to God while in the middle of our storms based upon our assurance that God is present with us? Or do we need to wait until the storm is over and we know the outcome before we give thanks?

We will #AriseAssured when we, like Paul, rise up and shake off doubt that God has abandoned us. Regardless of what happens he is a protector and a provider who has our long term best in mind. Even when storms are hard and difficult. The presence of God always offers both assurance that God is with me; and hope, which is the understanding that God is in control and working all things together for my good, no matter what the situation looks like..

So. did the presence of God change the circumstance Paul was in? Not right away. They remained on a ship in the storm. Did His presence change Paul while he was in the circumstance? I believe it did; how could it not?

Join the discussion this month at an Activ8Her chapter near you! Let's #AriseAssured together.

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