Clouds…

Clouds….

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Clouds are a beautiful pieces of art we see in the sky. Some appear small, big, white, yellow, gray, black, red and so on. They appear in different forms, shapes and sizes. We like clouds in a very hot day for it provides a shade for us below. So what really is a cloud? Scientist says clouds are nothing but water droplets which gets evaporated from the lakes, ponds, seas and other water bodies by sunlight and condense down in the atmosphere to form clouds. There are different types of clouds such as Cumulus, Cirrus, Nimbus etc.

It is always beautiful to see small patches of clouds in a clear sky. They appear bright and white in sky in different shapes. However, if it’s a cloudy day it won’t be as pleasant as a sunny day. In fact, studies have proven climates to have a great role in influencing the moods of people. You don’t have to worry about a teenager being angry for small things on a cloudy day because it’s the climate which play role in setting the moods! However, if it is densely clouded covering the entire sky, it is not a pleasant view at all. In fact, it brings fear in us as the entire sky darkens without sending any sunlight through it. And usually it ends with a heavy rain followed by thunderstorms and lightening.

Our life can be related to the clouds. Very rarely we have times like a sunny day without any clouds or without any reason to worry in our life. We will be very happy and super excited since we don’t have any problems. But mostly everyone has small patches of clouds or problems here and there in life. But still we will be happy as it doesn’t cover up our rays of hope over the problems. But when it becomes densely clouded we appear frightened as we don’t see any way around our problems. But what we often forget is that this cloud won’t stay for long, as the more thicker it becomes, the more unstable it become and results in rain bringing back the clear sky. Therefore, when you appear in deep problems don’t panic as the problem becomes bigger and bigger you are more closer to the solution of your problem and the problem itself will soon turn to blessings of rain bringing back life!

One similar experience is found in the 27th chapter of the Book of Acts of Apostles in Bible. Here Apostle Paul was caught as a prisoner in Jerusalem for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. The Jews couldn’t accept Jesus as their Messiah the true God and Saviour and charged against him and made him a prisoner in Jerusalem. But Paul, being a Roman citizen requested to be judged by Roman Caesar. Hence forth they kept him a prisoner to be sent to Rome for trial. He was kept as a prisoner in Jerusalem for a long time to get the permission from Rome to send him there for judgement. And finally, after a long time they got the confirmation to send Paul along with other prisoners to Rome for judgement. As you know, unlike today the transportation and communications were not advanced and it took a long time for communications and travel. The only way to go to Rome from Jerusalem was by ship.

As we see in the 27th chapter they sailed from Jerusalem to Sidon and they had to take the cover of Cypress Island as the winds were against them and passing through the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphliya they reached Myra in Lycia. Now they found a ship to Italy and Paul with 276 others boarded into that ship. The sea was rough and they struggled a lot and reached Fair Havens, closer to Lasea. They were running behind their schedule as they lost lot of time due to bad weather.

Now Paul had a vision and he warned the Centurion the voyage is going to be disastrous and is going to bring great loss to the ship, cargo and even life. But the Centurion didn’t listen to Paul and took the advice of the Pilot and the ship owner and decided to move to Pheonix as the place was not suitable for winter. And then they saw a gentle south wind and thought their plans working out and ceased the opportunity and set the voyage.

‘There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.’ (‭Acts‬ ‭27‬:‭6-12‬ NIV)

But soon enough the wind became a huge hurricane and they were trapped in the storm. They tried everything possible to save the ship, but it was of no use for the storm was beyond their hands. On the third day they threw the cargo of the ship and their equipments controlling the ship to lighten the ship and the ship was out of control. They were in such a bad storm that they couldn’t even see the sun, moon or the stars for many days and lost all hopes of being saved!

‘When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.‘ (‭Acts‬ ‭27‬:‭13-20‬ NIV)

It’s been 14 days since they were in the storm and they had no connection with the outside world and no control over the ship. When everyone believed it was their end and lost all hopes, Apostle Paul stood in the midst of them and reassured everyone not to be afraid off as None will be hurt, but only the ship for God gave him a vision that he had to stand for trial before Caesar and all with him will be saved but they definitely had to have a shipwreck. Oh, what a great word of comfort to all 276 people on board ship. When everyone thought it was their end and lost all hopes of being saved Paul reassures everyone that even though things are not looking good don’t be afraid for your life’s going to be safe! What a divine peace! Later we see Paul urges everyone to eat and regain health for the past fourteen days none of them ate anything! See how depressing their situation was! They couldn’t see anything around them for it was dark and they were in the middle of the sea, the sun, moon and stars were not visible, and the strong winds tearing the ship apart. Moreover, they lost all equipments controlling the ship and the ship was out of control and was sailing of its own not knowing where they were heading! How could somebody eat something when everything appears this worst before them? But here Paul calms everyone by reassuring them by saying every one’s going to safe and broke the bread praised God and ate it and encouraged everyone to eat to regain their health. They all ate and once done they threw the rest of the food to lighten the ship. And the next day they saw an unknown land close by and tried to drive the ship there and the shipwrecked, but everyone was safe as per Paul said and they were brought safely to the shore!

‘After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away. Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.’ (‭Acts‬ ‭27‬:‭21-44‬ NIV)

See in this situation, it so happened that they set forth without listening to Paul as the advice of the pilot and the ship owner seemed more trustable to the Centurion. Things appeared favouring to their wish, but it turned out to be disastrous as Paul said. They were in a terrible storm for 14 days! It was all dark around them as they couldn’t see anything and they didn’t even eat for 14 days as they were seeing death right in front of them. But Paul instead of criticising the Centurion, the pilot and the ship owner, he prayed for everyone and reassured everyone that every one’s going to be safe and also encouraged them to eat and regain the health after 14 days! For Paul had strong belief in God that even though he couldn’t see the sun, moon and stars he knew the words of the one who created all this is above the violent storm and is able to bring them out of the storm causing no harm to anyone’s life!

Same way when problems arise in life like the dark clouds and turn out to be big storms diminishing all hopes of being saved do not be afraid for the one who created all this is sitting above the storms and He is able to deliver you, to rescue you to safety without even losing a single hair on your head! So let the clouds of problems rise against us and cover up all the rays of hope, but if you trust God above the problem you can see the silver lining of hope around on the clouds! He will work in such a way that He will turn those dark clouds into the rain of blessing in life! He will help you to sail safely and reach you the other shore. Therefore, let’s put our trust in God and listen to him for he is able to bring us out of every situation we are engulfed within.

Like how God used ‘cloud’ to provide ‘shade’ during daytime and ‘light’ during night for the Israelites who set from Egypt, God is able to turn your clouds (your problems) an interface for God to communicate with you!

‘But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ (‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.’ (‭Psalm‬ ‭46‬:‭1-3‬ NIV)

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭46‬:‭10‬ NIV)

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