"So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away." NIV translation
In order to keep them safe, the soldiers had to get rid of the lifeboat. The sailors would have thought that this was cruel because they did not have faith in God and His words. The same type of thing happens even today when you try to help some people that do not know the Lord. We have heard the expression "tough love" and sometimes that is necessary to get people to the low point in their lives where they can look up and see the Lord. This is the same type of thing that Paul was talking about in his letter to Timothy when he talked of handing two men over to Satan (see 1 Timothy 1:20).
"Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. 'For the last fourteen days,' he said, 'you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food - you haven't eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.'" NIV translation
Paul continues to minister to the sailors as he urges them to eat. He reminds them of God's promise that they will be spared. Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of the promises that God has made and the fact that He keeps His promises.
"After he had said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea." NIV translation
Paul once again points to the provision of God as he gives thanks for the food. The sailors are lifted up as they watch this great man of faith and they eat as well. This is a good reminder that those who do not know Jesus are constantly observing us and even more so during difficult times. Our reaction to the struggles can be a big witness to them of God's care for His people.
"When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach." NIV translation
In the dark of the night, they trusted in the Lord but when morning came they trusted in their eyes. When they saw land, they immediately went into action to get there on their own. That is how many people try to walk with the Lord as they turn to Him in the difficult times when they cannot see any other option. But, like the sailors and the land in the morning, when the tough time is past, they go back to doing things based on their own wisdom and what they see.