Ps 68:20 says, ‘our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.’ This was the experience of the 276 men on board the ship with Paul when he was journeying to Rome following his appeal to Caesar. Encouraged and sustained by Paul’s word to them that none of their lives would be lost (Acts 27:22, 24), they finally landed safely on shore in Malta. True, their journey had not gone according to plan. There had been great peril, so much so that at times, they had despaired and given up all hope of survival. (Acts 27:20) Paul knew all about great peril. This was not the only time he had faced it; in 2 Cor 11:23-29, he lists the many times he had faced peril, including imprisonment, flogging, exposure to death, shipwrecks, danger from bandits, Jews and Gentiles, and says that at times, ‘we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.’ (2 Cor 1:8) Yet at the same time, Paul also knew what it was to experience God’s salvation and deliverance, both literally and spiritually.
He reminds the Corinthians, ‘But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.’ (2 Cor 1:9-11) The truth that our God is a God who saves is one which needs shouting from the rooftops. His help in our everyday situations needs to be proclaimed. Paul was hugely thankful for God’s deliverance in landing safely at Malta, in the fulfilment of that word of reassurance given at just the right time. We too need to hear God’s words of reassurance, hold on to them, proclaim them by faith in advance (when we might rightly be considered optimistic to be so positive – and even crazy!) and then rejoice when they are fulfilled.