I was reminded of this storm a few days ago when I was reading my Bible and came across Acts 27. Paul and Luke encountered their own perfect storm. Paul had been imprisoned and was sailing to Italy to appeal to Caesar. Verse 13 says a good wind came along and they thought they were going to have a pleasant sailing. But verse 14 says a dangerous, violent wind came along and their ship was in trouble. The thing I found interesting was verse 20. It said many days had passed and the conditions were worsening, and Paul and Luke thought all hope was lost.
Yet Paul's story doesn't end the way the Andrea Gail's did. His ship was destroyed, but they survived and made it to an island. But the turning point for Paul didn't come when he made it ashore and knew everything would be okay. You see, after Paul gave up all hope, he turned to God and cried out for help. And God filled his heart with a peace and courage and let him know everything would be okay. If you read the entire chapter of Acts 27, you'll notice things didn't get better right away. In fact, they got worse. They went many days without eating. The prisoners were almost killed and thrown overboard to lighten the load of the ship. And once safely on land, Paul was bitten by a viper. Paul definitely had a perfect storm of events happening in his life, but he knew things would get better. Either circumstances would get better or he would die and go to heaven. Either way, he knew the storm wouldn't last forever. I'm convinced one of the reasons he came out of the storm is because he turned to God and drew his strength and courage from Him.
Recently I watched an interview with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. The Congresswoman is the one who was shot through the brain at an event this past January. She should either be dead or living a life with no quality, but she's not. I've always been amazed at her recovery, and after watching the interview I knew how she had recovered. She experienced discouragement and dark days, but on those days when she was ready to give up she would turn to God and draw her strength from her faith in Him. A turning point for the Congresswoman came two months after she had been shot. She finally learned the truth of the events that had taken place in Arizona. When she learned the truth, she turned to her husband and said, "I've been beaten." And her husband replied, "No, not beaten. Just beaten-up."
Wiser words were never spoken. I've learned that sometimes we experience a perfect storm in our lives. We feel broken, bruised, discouraged, and hopeless. Being chronically ill, I feel like I've had more than my share of perfect storms. But the key to my survival, or anyone else's for that matter, is in our perspective. If I believe I've been beaten, I'll give up. But if I know that I'm just beaten-up, I know that my brokenness can be healed, and I can move on even stronger than I was before the storm.
What about you? Are you beaten or just beaten-up? It makes all the difference in the world.
"Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" ~ Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)
(c) November 16, 2011