by Bill Sayer

Before the Suez Canal was completed in 1869, ships needing to sail between Europe and the Far East would need to round the Southern tip of Africa. The problem with that route lay in having to negotiate the Cape where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. Due to the severity of the seas at the Cape, it was originally named the Cape of Storms (literally in Portuguese, Cape of Torments) by Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias in 1488. But a few years later, it was renamed by King John II of Portugal as the Cape of Good Hope.  

How did a place of Storms (or Torments) get renamed to become a place of Good Hope? It was because of the great optimism that it fostered in opening a sea route from Portugal to India and the East, and the vast trading opportunities that the route provided.

Changing the name from Cape of Storms to Cape of Good Hope did not mean that the violent storms in that area ceased. However, the perception changed from being only a place of struggle and difficulty to a place of ultimate blessing.

Jesus once taught the people about ultimate blessing using these very familiar words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:3, 4)

When we pass through the Storms (or Torments) of life, we certainly don’t feel blessed! So why did Jesus teach the people these words? Although we may be going through difficulties and problems today, there will come a time when blessing will be apparent in our lives, on earth and later in Heaven. Jesus shifted the attention of His listeners from present realities to a future Good Hope.

So how should we respond, today, to our present Storms and Torments? The Bible is literally full of helpful advice in this respect, by helping us to see with the eyes of faith the Good Hope that awaits us all. Just spend a few minutes meditating on these great verses:

Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:32; Proverbs 23:17-18; Matthew 6:31-33; Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 37:25; Proverbs 3:5

Perhaps these verses above can best be summarised with this verse, written by Paul:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)