Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep. — 2 Corinthians 11:25
Sometimes people get the impression that they have to be absolutely perfect before they can step out in faith to do something new and adventuresome. But there is rarely a perfect or easy environment in which a step of faith needs to be taken! The reason we call it a “step of faith” is that it requires us to move out of our comfort zone or to do something that is challenging!
So rather than wait for a perfect situation before you step out in faith, listen to the Holy Spirit for His timing. If the Holy Spirit says to do something now, you need to do it now, even if the surrounding environment seems difficult or unfavorable at the moment. And when you step out in faith, don’t be surprised if you are met with obstacles and difficulties, at least at first.
Some people say, “I tried to step out in faith once, and I was met with all kinds of horrible circumstances! What happened to me is such a terrible memory that I don’t know if I have the courage to ever step out in faith again!”
That’s why I’m writing several Sparkling Gems to tell you about Paul’s experiences. I want you to know that everyone runs into obstacles and difficulties — even the apostle Paul with all his God-given revelation and anointing!
You see, the devil will do his best to hinder what God puts in your heart because he doesn’t want God’s will to be accomplished through your life. The enemy is terrified at the thought of you actually doing what God has told you to do. But like the apostle Paul, you have to determine that one way or another, you’re going to get the job done. Paul didn’t throw in the towel and quit just because he ran into obstacles along the road to his goal. He just found ways to get around the obstacles and keep going until his divine assignment was fulfilled!
I guarantee you that if you freeze every time the devil throws a roadblock in your path, you’ll spend most of your life frozen. Perfect circumstances are terrific if it’s possible to line them up, but don’t depend on it. Whether or not the circumstances are the way you’d like them to be, you have to decide to take hold of God’s power and move ahead. God will show you how to get around that impasse so you can finish the job He’s given you to do.
Thrice I Suffered Shipwreck
In Second Corinthians 11:25, Paul tells us about one roadblock the devil devised to hinder him. He writes, “…Thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.”
This verse is a bit of a mystery. The book of Acts only records one shipwreck. Yet as we have already seen from this list, too many significant events occurred during Paul’s ministry for Luke to have included all of them in his written account in the book of Acts.
Traveling by sea was a perilous and risky undertaking. Ships were not always reliable. The routes often took them through waters cluttered with sharp rocks, reefs, and debris. Even if the vessel was guided by strong and skilled leadership, currents were so strong that even the best ships could be carried directly into rocks and other dangerous obstacles.
In Acts 27:14-44, we read that Paul was traveling aboard a ship that ran into rocks and broke into pieces in the midst of a great storm. In that moment of crisis, Paul became God’s man on board ship! He spoke the word of faith to the crew and passengers, and soon he was in charge of the entire situation.
In addition to this shipwreck, Paul testifies that he has been shipwrecked on two other occasions as well. What are the odds that one person would be on three different ships that shipwrecked? This would be the equivalent of one person surviving three different plane crashes!
I think you can see that the attacks that assailed Paul’s life were simply remarkable in their scope and nature. Satan tried to create all kinds of “impasses” to stop him and his work. These events were definitely inconvenient, but they were unable to permanently hinder him from getting to his destination.
A Night and a Day I Have Been in the Deep
The phrase “a night and a day” refers to a 24-hour time period. The word “deep” is the Greek word bathus, and it refers to the deepest parts of the sea. Because Paul mentions this event immediately following his recollection of shipwrecks, we may assume that this night and a day in the deep was the result of one of the other shipwrecks of which we have no knowledge.
It is impossible to make much comment on this, as we know only what Paul says in this verse. Whenever and however it occurred, it was a horrific event in Paul’s life. The Greek tense shows that the experience is still fresh and vivid in Paul’s mind as he writes about it. The language even suggests that this is a recent occurrence.
Paul spent a 24-hour period treading water in the deepest parts of the sea. Yet it didn’t scare him away from getting on the very next ship to continue his trip and go where God ordered him to go. It was just another impasse on the journey, but it didn’t stop his trip!
Likewise, you can’t let past bad experiences determine your future actions. Consider what would have happened if Paul had said, “That’s it! I’m never getting on another ship!” If he had taken this approach, the devil would have stopped Paul from traveling by sea to get to areas where he needed to go. But instead of letting fear grip his mind, Paul put away all thoughts of fear and boarded the next ship when that form of transportation was required in order to reach the destination where God was leading him to go.
Instead of thinking how horrific it was to go through that past experience, why don’t you turn that memory around and reflect on how faithful God was to you in the midst of it? You didn’t die! You survived! God’s mercy intervened, and you came out all right! Even though the devil would love to paint a horrible memory for you about that event, the truth is, God was faithful to bring you through that ordeal, or you wouldn’t be reading this Sparkling Gem today!
You’re not defeated! Other people dropped out of sight or didn’t survive after the devil assaulted them — but you are still here! So hold your head high, throw back your shoulders, and be proud of the fact that God’s power enabled you to overcome in the past. And He will continue enabling you to overcome in the future if you’ll make the decision to keep moving forward by faith!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I admit that I’ve allowed some bad memories to paralyze me and keep me from taking the step of faith I need to be taking right now. I forgot to consider how You saved me, delivered me, and rescued me from the events that caused those painful memories. I only reflected on the bad part, failing to recognize how faithful You were to help me in that situation. Today I am making the choice to turn my memories around. Holy Spirit, help me see my past bad experiences in the light of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Fill my mind with the good things God has done for me and the knowledge that He will continue to be faithful to deliver me, no matter what opposition comes my way!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God is good! He has been faithful to me. He has never failed me. He will never fail me in the future. Even when bad things tried to come against me, God saved me, delivered me, and brought me out with no permanent harm. It is a miracle I survived everything that happened to me in the past. But from this moment on, I choose to turn my memories around and to reflect only on how good God has been to me through all of life’s events.I will trust in Him to show me how to get around every impasse so I can finish the job He’s given me to do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO ANSWER
1. When you reflect on the bad things that have happened to you in the past, can you see God’s faithfulness to bring you through each difficult situation? Have you ever pondered those past events in your life from the perspective of how good God was to deliver you, or have you only meditated on how terrible those situations were to go through?
2. I want to encourage you to take a sheet of paper and to write down the times God has delivered and rescued you in the past. As you do, stop to meditate on each instance and to thank God for His goodness before proceeding to write down the next instance when He preserved your life or rescued you from a bad situation.
3. Do you know someone who has been paralyzed by some past event? Don’t you think you could encourage that person and help him turn his memories around by sharing how God has intervened and rescued you so magnificently on many occasions?