A Mandate and Suffering
One of my favorite shows as a child was Gilligan’s Island…you know….”The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost…” I’ll spare you the rest. Gilligan’s Island began with a shipwreck. Wouldn’t you know it but the apostle Paul has to undergo a shipwreck. After all that he had endured up to this point, you might think he could skip that one but alas, a shipwreck it is. In Acts 27 Paul is on a ship to Rome. Remember that Paul has appealed his case to Caesar, a right he has because of his Roman citizenship. God had told Paul that he would testify of Jesus in the city of Rome and Paul is on his way…and endures a shipwreck.
There are lots of things to think about here in this chapter. First, once again God appears to Paul, this time via an angel, and assures him that he will survive this shipwreck. This is the third time in the midst of peril, that God has reassured Paul of his own survival. But why is Paul surviving? Ultimately, Paul is surviving because God has a job for him to do. Paul has to endure these terrible things, beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck and others because he is a follower of Jesus. The list of things Paul endures is quite long but as he writes near the end of his life Paul says this in 2 Timothy 4: 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, Paul was willing to endure all of the suffering because he had a mandate from God. I believe that Paul’s devotion to the clear mandate he had helped him endure the suffering. I think the same thing is true for us. When we know what we are supposed to do…when we have a clear mandate…I think it helps us endure whatever comes our way. But if we are sort of wishy washy about what God has for us, then I suspect we are not very sturdy in the face of suffering. I hope you have a clear mandate from God. Though our directions might be different, all followers of Jesus are to share the gospel of Jesus. We are all to make disciples. Let’s not waver in doing good. But I also hope a shipwreck isn’t in my future!