Confidence And Courage In The Midst Of The Storm
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
“Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).
The presence of a brave man in the hour of danger is a very great comfort to his companions. It is a grand thing to observe Paul so bold, so calm, in the midst of all the hurly-burly of the storm, and talking so cheerfully, and so encouragingly, to the crew and to the soldiery and to the prisoners. You must have seen in many events in history that it is the one man, after all, that wins the battle: all the rest play their parts well when the one heroic spirit lifts the standard.
Recollect, Christian man, that wherever you are placed you are to be the one man, and you are to have courage and independence of spirit and strength of mind received from God, that with it you may comfort those around you who are of the weaker sort. So act that your confidence in God shall strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees, and your calm quiet look shall say to them that are of a faint heart, “Be strong; fear not.”
If you are to do this, and I trust you will do it, in the sick chamber, in the midst of the troubles of life, in the church, and everywhere else, you must be strong yourself. Take it as a good rule that nothing can come out of you that is not in you. You cannot render real encouragement to others unless you have courage within yourself.
Now, the reason why Paul was able to embolden his companions was that he encouraged himself in his God; he was calm or else he could not have calmed those around him. Imagine him excited and all in a tremble, and yet saying, “Sirs, be of good cheer.” Why they would have thought that he mocked them, and they would have replied, “Be of good cheer yourself, sir, before you encourage us.”
So my dear brothers and sisters, you must trust God and be calm and strong, or else you will not be of such service in the world and in the church as you ought to be. Get full, and then you will run over, but you can never fill others till you become full yourselves. Be yourselves “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10), and then you will be as a standard lifted up to which the timid will rally.
Paul was strong because he believed. Faith makes men strong – not in the head, but in the heart.
“I Believe God”
Notice that Paul’s faith was faith in God. “I believe God,” said he. Nobody else in the ship could see any hope in God. With the exception of one or two like-minded with Paul, they thought that God had forsaken them, if indeed they thought of God at all. But there had that night stood by Paul’s side an angel fresh from heaven, bright with the divine presence, and, strengthened by his message, Paul said, “I believe God.” That was something more than saying, “I believe in God.” This many do and derive but slender comfort from the belief. But “I believe God – believe Him, believe His truthfulness, believe the word that He has spoken, believe His mercy and His power. I believe God.” This made Paul calm, peaceful, strong. Would to God that all professing Christians did really believe God.
Believing God, he believed the message that God had sent him, drank in every word and was revived by it. God had said, “Fear not Paul, I have given thee all them that sail with thee.” He believed it. He felt certain that God, having promised it, was able to perform it; and amidst the howling of the winds, Paul clung to that promise. He was sure that no hair of any man’s head would be harmed. The Lord had said the preserving word and it was enough for His servant. Has He said it, and shall He not do it? Has He spoken it, and shall it not come to pass? He believed God that it should be even as it was told him.
And he did that – mark you, dear friends – when there was nothing else to believe in. “I believe God,” said he. The fierce Euroclydon was sweeping the vessel hither and thither, and driving her toward the shore: but he calmly said, “I believe God.” Ah, that is a grand thing – to believe God when the winds are out, to believe God when the waves howl like so many wild beasts, and follow one upon another like a pack of wolves all seeking to devour you. “I believe God.” This is the genuine breed of faith – this which can brave a tempest.
The common run of men’s faith is fair-weather faith, faith which loves to see its beautiful image mirrored in the glassy wave, but is far away when the storm clouds are marshalling the battle. The faith of God’s elect is the faith that can see in the dark, the faith that is calm in the tumult, the faith that can sing in the midst of sorrow, the faith that is brightest when everything around her is black as midnight. “I believe God,” said he, when he had nothing else to believe in. “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him” (Psa. 62:5). Say thou, O my soul, “Though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, yet will we not fear, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (see Psalm 46:1-2).
“God liveth still!
Trust, my soul, and fear no ill;
Heaven’s huge vault may cleave asunder,
Earth’s round globe in ruins burst;
Devil’s fellest rage may thunder,
Death and hell may spend their worst;
Then will God keep safe and surely
Those who trust in Him securely:
Wherefore then, my soul, despair?
Mid the shipwreck, God is there.”
Genuine Faith Speaks Out
Since the Apostle Paul believed God thus truly and really, he was not ashamed to say so. He said openly to all those around him, “There shall not a hair of your heads perish, for I believe God.”
Now, it is not so easy to thrust out your faith and expose it to rough weathers, and to the hearing of rough men. Many a man has believed the promise but has not quite liked to say so, for there has been the whisper in his soul, “Suppose it should not come true, then how the enemy will rejoice! How those that listened to me will be saddened when they find that I was mistaken.” Thus does the devil cause faith to be dumb, and God is robbed of His honor. Under the name of prudence, there lurks an unbelieving selfishness. Brother, lend me your ear that I may whisper in it – “You do not believe at all.” That is not the legitimate sort of believing.
Genuine faith in God speaks out and says, “God is true, and I will stake everything on His Word.” It does not swallow its own words and keep its thoughts to itself; but when the time comes, and others are in difficulty and doubt, it cheers them by crying out, “I believe God.” It is not ashamed to say, “The Lord Jesus, whose I am and whom I serve, stood by me this night, and spoke with me, and I avow it.”
A Call to Believers
I would to God all Christians were prepared to throw down the gauntlet, and to come out straight; for if God be not true let us not pretend to trust Him, and if the Gospel be a lie let us be honest enough to confess it. But if it be true, wherefore should we doubt it and speak with bated breath? If God’s promise be true, why should we distrust it? What excuse is there for this hesitancy? “Oh,” says one, “but that might be running great risks.” Risks with God? Risks about God keeping His word? It cannot be. “...Let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Rom. 3:4). Let heaven and earth return to chaos, but the Most High cannot break His word or run back from His promise. Therefore, O ye Pauls, if ye receive a message from the Most High, publish it abroad and let your faith be known.
I should like that little word to drop into the ears of some of you who think you love Christ, but have never told your love – you that are hiding in the background there. Come out and show yourselves!
As for you who have long avowed your Savior, do it more and more, and
“Speak Thy word,
Though kings should hear,
Nor yield to sinful shame.”
– Condensed from a sermon.