Sometimes people get the idea that living for Jesus is an easy life and that those who follow Christ will always have smooth sailing. A close examination of the Scriptures will show us that this is not the case at all. Jesus himself plainly warns us, “…In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).
One such example of a tough journey is found in Acts 27 and 28, where Paul and his traveling companions sailed for Rome. The trip was anything but an easy one. The many difficulties they experienced are a reminder that the Christian life is not always smooth sailing.
Early in the journey, Luke records that “the winds were against us” (v.4) and “We made slow headway” (v.7). Because of the time of year, “sailing had already become dangerous” (v.9), but those in charge of the ship decided to push on anyway.
Then a hurricane-like storm came along, and the ship was swept along, out of control. In spite of Paul’s attempts to reassure them, the passengers became fearful and discouraged. They saw some land and decided to run the ship aground. The pounding of the surf broke up the ship, and the passengers made it to land, some by floating on pieces of the destroyed ship.
Once they made it to shore, they still experienced difficulties. While collecting firewood, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, but, miraculously, he experienced no ill effects from the venomous bite.
It was a three full months before they were able to board another ship and continue on their journey. They finally arrived in Rome, where Paul, still a prisoner, was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. The book of Acts concludes with these words—“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (28:30-31).
From this Scripture we learn that we too can experience a tough journey as we live our lives for Jesus. Sometimes the winds will be against us and things will not come easy. Still we must push on. Sometimes we will have to pay the price for risky decisions that others have made. Let us not be discouraged; let us continue the journey. Sometimes we are reminded that we are not in control of the circumstances of our lives. Even so, we do not lose heart. Sometimes it seems like our ship is breaking up beneath us, with major upheavals in society, at work, in the family or even in the church. Still we must press on. Sometimes we feel like we have been the victim of a snakebite (figuratively, I hope!). We have to shake it off and go on. Sometimes we go through months at a time without making any progress. It is during these times that we need to exercise patience. Sometimes we feel restricted, like Paul was when he was under house arrest. But he didn’t let that hinder him from preaching and teaching about Jesus, and neither should we. Let us keep on spreading the good news “with all boldness and without hindrance!”