How to make it Through the Night
In Acts 27 Paul is finally on his way (in chains) to Rome when he is involved in a horrible storm at sea. After 14 days of being battered on all sides by wind, rain, (and probably sleet and snow) the ship has finally come upon land, but neither the pilot, nor anyone else, has a clue as to where they are. It is midnight and pitch black, and they don’t know if they are near sheer rock cliffs, rocky shoals or sandy beaches. So they must wait until daylight. Acts 27:29 tells us “Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.”
What is it about night that makes the problem bigger? There’s just something about night. It’s a proven fact that a fever increases at night. Pain is worse at night. Fear is stronger at night. When I’ve stayed with someone in the hospital at night, the hardest time is between 2 and 5 am. It seems it will never pass! “They dropped their anchors and prayed for daybreak.” So, how do we make it through the night?
First the scripture says that “they let down four anchors…” What are these four anchors? What is it that anchors you? Perhaps our first anchor should be faith”. You’ve just got to have faith. How? Start by praying the “Names of God”.
Now, God doesn’t need to hear all His names – but we do.
- Jehovah Jireh – God sees and will provide what I need (Genesis 22:14)
- Jehovah Rapha – The Lord that heals you (Exodus 15:26)
- Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my banner or the flag that goes before me (Exodus 17:15)
- Jehovah Shalom – The Lord sends peace in time of fear (Judges 6:24)
- Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there, always (Ezekiel 48:35)
- Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our righteousness is always right; is always just (Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16)
There are many more, but you get the picture. If we have a problem – God has/God IS the answer.
The next anchor would be to surrender “the night” to God. We may be reaching out to God, but usually we are holding tightly to the problem with the other hand. My Mother used to say that she didn’t have any problem taking her troubles to the altar; it was just that she’d pick them back up when she left there. What I usually do is to ask “Is there anything I can do about this right now? Will worrying about it make it better? Will not worrying about it make it worse?” If the answer is no, then I quit worrying. It was the only way I could sleep during one dark time when our older son was in intensive care.
The third anchor must be hope, and remember hope is not wishful thinking – Biblical hope is a certainty. It’s not just believing that God will act, but that He will act on time, in time, and with the perfect outcome. What God has done for Paul (each step of the way) He will do for you. We think of the song “Be Not Dismayed” – “Be not dismayed what ere betide
God will take care of you…” I am not a singer, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sung that at night. One of our sons had nightmares, seems like forever! And I would sing that at night for him. We also had Psalms 4:8 on a sheet of paper on the ceiling over his bed. It read, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety”. (Don’t we all memorize in the KJV?)
And finally, the last anchor would be thanksgiving. When we thank the Lord before the solution comes, it breaks the chains of worry.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Or as the NLT puts it – (and the way I have it on my refrigerator) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
And then the scripture says, “and [they] prayed for day to come.”
The following is a prayer I wrote based on Psalm 9:9-10 (which reads “The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”)
When I read these verses years ago I immediately thought of an anchor, and so I titled this prayer, “The Anchor.”
Loving and Gracious God, You are my “cleft in the rock”, You are my “shelter in the storm” and You are my “life raft in the shipwreck”. And I “know” You Lord – or better yet, I am known by You. I have cried out seeking, searching, and You have not ever left me alone – not ever! And I thank You and praise You, in Jesus’ Name – Amen.