“Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me”
Hauled off to Rome to stand trial before the throne of Caesar, the apostle Paul, despite the time he had already spent in prison, despite the persecution that he had already endured, despite the inevitable death that he knew would come at the hands of the Imperial Authorities, had remained strong through all he had been forced to endure. Now though, as the waters rose and the storm beat against the hull of the ship that was carrying him to the seat of power, terror gripped everyone around him.
The ship would sink they feared, claiming them all with it, indifferent to who they were or the life they lived. But, if the sea didn’t take their lives first then the fact that they had run out of food would It would take the good with the bad, the young with the old, the prisoner with the free, with no thought or consideration given to any of it.
Yet, even through all of that Paul remained at peace, with little to actually shake him. It would there that he comfort the sailors, assuring them that they would not die, for the night before he sought the Lord and, through His angel, the Lord came to Him, in the promises of His protection and His love. Though they would be forced to endure this trial they would survive, sheltered by the hand of God.
The simple truth of the matter is that the world treats us indifferently. There are few things amidst this world that maintains the inherent principle of equality quite like pain and suffering, hurt and sorrow, darkness and bondage, death and destruction. It considers little of who were are. It takes the very good with the very bad, the innocent with the guilty, the weak with the strong, and it breaks all of them until it seems like there is little left for them amidst their lives.
Yet, even in the greatest of captivity, even in the deepest of bondage, there is another great equalizer. That is the love of God and the mercy and compassion that He shows unto His people. Whatever the challenge, whatever the trial or the difficulty, God moves Heaven and Earth to stand beside and to protect His children, to comfort them in all their woes and difficulties, moving amidst their lives to show unparalleled love unto them.
Yes, it may seem as all if all the world has risen up, it may seem as if bondage and captivity is so near at hand, as if persecution and oppression is so unavoidable amidst this world. It may be as so much hurt is brought to bear in the lives of the people. Yet this is why we must draw nearer to God, seeking to do His will on earth as it is done in Heaven, lifting our prayers to Him for the lives of those who find themselves in any need or trouble, working to show forth the love of Christ in this world. It is so we may implore the Spirit of the Lord and His angels to come upon all of those who find themselves in any need or trouble, that they may find the strength they need in all that they are and all that they face.
It is then that hope is brought to bear in the lives of the people through all that they are and all that they are forced to endure as they find perseverance and endurance through all the days of their lives...
Let us pray:
You, O Lord, are our refuge, our ever present shelter through the tempests of this temporal existence that bring upon us the long nights...
You O Lord, are our strength, our ever present help, vigilant amidst the cause of Your people, as You move heaven and earth to stand by them...
You, O Lord, mark the lives of Your children, contending forever in the promises You have made unto them even as they find that the challenges stand there before them.
Stay then true to Your assurances unto them through all captivity and bondage that seeks to so impose persecution and oppression, slavery and tyranny upon their lives. Lift from them the weight of those burdens, letting their lives be held dear and precious, with the value that You have assigned to it. Bring freedom to those who find that darkness surrounds them and let Your justice dwell amidst the hopes that they have that liberty shall once more come to bear in their lives.
So often do we see Your hand at work. In the four thwarted hijackings this weekend we have seen You move through the people to keep Your creation safe. We pray then that you move in the same way to stand by Your people throughout the world who suffering in any bondage, throughout their days that their chains may be broken and life shall be restored to them. Move through the course of human events to show Your face in even the deepest of challenges, and cast upon Your people Your angels to guard them and guide them in all that they are, in all that is before them.
In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.