Press On (even when the ship goes down)

In last week’s blog post, we looked at the assurance of God’s faithfulness as we encounter the storms of life. We looked at the storm that Jesus and the disciples encountered as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. We again witnessed His faithfulness in bringing His disciples safely to the shore. We were reminded that we can be confident in His miraculous ability to still storms that arise in our lives. But what do we do when He doesn’t still the storm? What do we do when the ship goes down?

The apostle Paul together with two hundred sixty-six other men found themselves in the midst of one of those storms in the Mediterranean Sea (Acts 27). A few in the group of prisoners, soldiers and sailors were followers of Jesus, but the large majority were not. It was Paul who had earlier expressed safety concerns to the ship’s officers before the storm arose, recommending that they find a safe harbor for the winter. But the ship’s owner and captain, motivated by their own personal avarice, assured the Roman centurion (the patron of the trip) that the journey could be made. Given the option of listening to experienced sailors or a tentmaker, the centurion opted to follow the advice of the former. 

Ultimately the ship was battered by gale-force winds that raged for days “blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last, all hope was gone.” Even the experienced seamen had now lost hope. It was then that Paul gathered all the men on the ship and admonished them to take courage. God had again reminded Paul that he would “surely stand trial before Caesar” and “God in His goodness” had promised the“safety to everyone sailing with” Paul. Everyone who stayed on the ship would be saved, but for that to happen even the lifeboats would need to be cut away and abandoned.

God extended His grace to everyone on that ship. They experienced two weeks of a violent storm, which ended with the ship breaking up and much of the cargo being lost. But no one perished – all two hundred seventy-six souls made it to shore. They arrived rumpled but unharmed, clinging onto planks or debris from the battered ship.

It was a harrowing experience, filled with darkness and hopelessness. Many of us have experienced events in our own lives that have led to shipwreck – though perhaps more figurative than literal – but devastating, nonetheless. Our shipwreck has been the death of a loved one, a tragic accident, a disastrous financial loss, or the like. (By the way, as we saw last week, all of these were a part of Horatio Spafford’s journey.) In the midst of our own shipwreck, we too have needed to find the strength to “press on”.

In his July 16thentry in My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.

With that confidence comes His grace and His strength. Paul wrote, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV). In our weakness – in the midst of the storm – His power is made perfect. Paul didn’t preach that truth from intellectual pursuit, he learned that truth through the storms – and the shipwrecks – of his own life. Several years later, he wrote regarding the preliminary trial that ultimately led to his execution: “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. … But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17 ESV). Even if no one else stands with us, we can be confident that there is One who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) – He will stand with us. He will enable us to make it to shore. He will enable us to finish the race.

Another that gave witness that was borne through his own personal storms and “shipwrecks” was the Psalmist King:

I will exalt you, Lord, for You rescued me.

You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you restored my health.

You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.

You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Weeping may last through the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

…You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.

You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

(Psalm 30 NLT)

You may be in the midst of a shipwreck today – or you may be dealing with the after-effects of one in your recent past. Take comfort – and confidence – from these – and others – who have gone before you. Your God is not an unkind friend, an unnatural father, or an unjust judge. He is your Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is your Heavenly Father who keeps you and cares for you, just as Jesus asked Him to do (John 17:11). He is your Merciful Judge who grants mercy at the throne of His grace (Hebrews 4:16) – and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He is your Comfort. He is your Strength. He is your Shield. He is your Shepherd. He is your Redeemer. He is the Sovereign Almighty God. There is no storm – and there is no shipwreck – that He is not able to bring you through.

And because of Him – and in Him – and through Him alone – we can find the strength to press on … even when the ship goes down.

Excerpt from Until He Returns


Press On

When the valley is deep

When the mountain is steep

When the body is weary

When we stumble and fall


When the choices are hard

When we're battered and scarred

When we've spent our resources

When we've given our all



In Jesus' name, we press on

In Jesus' name, we press on

Dear Lord, with the prize

Clear before our eyes

We find the strength to press on


In Jesus' name, we press on

In Jesus' name, we press on

Dear Lord, with the prize

Clear before our eyes

We find the strength to press on

To press on


Press On lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Recorded by Selah © 2001