For several days we could not see either the sun or the stars. A strong wind kept blowing, and we finally gave up all hope of being saved. Since none of us had eaten anything for a long time, Paul stood up and told the men: You should have listened to me! If you had stayed on in Crete, you would not have had this damage and loss. But now I beg you to cheer up, because you will be safe. Only the ship will be lost. (Acts 27:20-22 CEV)
In a time like this, as the storms rage over our Nation, this topic appears to be a queer thing to say to any citizen of this Nation at this time. There is anger, sadness and despair written all over our faces; and there seems to be no hope in the short run for the Nation. When we were having our prayer walks, it looked like a revival was about to burst on this land; but with each passing day since the Lekki shootings, I see discouragement and despair written over men’s faces, and any one saying to others “Cheer up!” is considered ignorant or living in denial of the situation in the Nation now.
But that was exactly the situation Paul was into at this time. The ship had been tossed to and fro for several days, and the storm had so raged that they could not open their cabins nor stand in the open deck. Hence, for days, no one set his eyes on the sun. The strong wind kept on blowing to the point that they felt that they were going to die. In fact, they lost all hopes of being saved. They were so certain of their death that they lost all appetite for food and drinks.
At this point, one man stood up- one man who in the midst of it all was paying attention to what God was going to say, and not following the general cry and despair of the multitudes. He had heard the word of God, so he spoke it. Paul continued thus, “For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. (Acts 27:23-26 KJV)
Since this storm raging the nation, I’ve been praying for the rise of prophets, who will not just join the multitudes to talk, but who will listen to the Spirit and bring us the word of God. If there is anything my Nation needs now to handle the crisis, it is the word from heaven… though I do not claim to be that prophetic voice, but in this article, I will give some basic rules drawn from this account of Paul’s navigation in the storm for how we must navigate the seasons successfully.
- LIGHTEN THE SHIP: In our Nation, we have really joined forces to make governance so complicated. The amount of money that is invested in servicing our many political offices can be duly utilized to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry Nigerians and provide adequate employment opportunities. Now, we have to lighten the ship. Our heavy loads have been part of what is killing us, and if we hold on to the heavy load, the ship will sink. The Nation is going to experience some economic backlash as a result of all that had been happening, and the only way to cushion that economic backlash is to lighten the ship. I call for a review of the salary structure and remunerations of political leaders to reflect the realities of a Nation in crisis; else, we may not survive the storms.
- DON’T SEEK TO ESCAPE: Though as a joke, some are already seeking the way to get out of this country. Many people are already tired of the Nation and wish to have a way out of it. In fact, some who are already out are happy that they are out, and may even be wishing not to come back. This was the state of the crew men on board Paul’s ship. A point came when the situation seemed not to have improved (even after Paul had given them the word of the Lord), that the crew men sought to find a way to escape. Now my shock is that Paul told the soldiers that if this men escape from the ship, then every other persons will die. I thought that since God had promised Paul that nobody will die, Paul could have gladly allowed the crew men to escape; but prophecy has its guiding principles. If that prophetic word was going to come to pass, then the crew men must not escape, they must stay. As we go about pushing forth the prophecy of Pa. S. G. Elton concerning the Nation, it is important for us to know that the prophecy may not come to pass unless some of us stay in the ship and refuse to seek a way of escape. God counts on us, and so does our nation.
- HOLD ON TO GOD’S WORD: Don’t despair. Don’t give up. Don’t let the situations around depress you. Paul told them, “For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,” There is a God that you are serving. You belong to Him, and He is committed to taking care of you. In the midst of the storms in this season, we must take a cue from Paul’s attitude in the storm. He refused to fret and murmur like the others, instead, he rested in his walk with God and in the promise of God towards him. He told the men, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” God has given His good word concerning the Land, and concerning your life. So, cheer up, the word works.
- FINALLY, this is not to say that there are no tough times ahead. The promise of God does not preclude the consequences of one’s stupid actions. A nation that has constantly rejected God’s way is sure to experience turbulent times, and it will not be easy for all of us. However, we count of the Lord’s promises to us in these times, and we count on His infallible word. So, CHEER UP, BRETHREN… THE WORD WORKS.