Acts 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The Lord had given Paul a brilliant line of defense, stated in verse six, but that was effective only because Paul was in the most Jewish of situations, and here the Lord is telling him he’ll have to do it again in the Gentile environment of Rome. To me this verse settles the question of whether Paul was really listening to God or just to his own pride when he insisted on going to Jerusalem in spite of repeated prophetic warnings. God knew that Paul still had several letters to write that would be part of the New Testament, and he needed to be in situations where he would write with purity out of his own tested faith. In addition, the Lord planned Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Caesarea to give Luke, who was traveling with Paul, time to research and write the Gospel that bears his name. That experience in turn primed Luke to write Acts after they had gotten settled in Rome. It is a truism, but we really don’t know what lies ahead so we can’t know the “whys and wherefores” of all that God allows in our lives. If we focus on our current discomfort we will merely multiply our pain, emotional and otherwise. If we focus on the Lord in trust, gratitude and praise, we are much better able to see our troubles as “light and momentary, achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Paul himself wrote that, after going through more than we would want to experience and not long before being martyred. Such faith is a choice, and it is as available to us as it was to Paul.
This is very real to me, particularly in light of my wife’s medical problems. She has experienced instantaneous, miraculous healing in the past, but that’s not happening right now. Rather than agonize over why, we need to make full use of the various opportunities this is giving us to be witnesses, testifying of God’s all-sufficient grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9) After all, Paul wrote about that in relation to a physical problem of his own! We are not to be fatalistic, or fail to pursue healing, but neither are we to agonize about it all. Rather, we are to rejoice that God trusts us enough to shape and use us in this way, seeking always to be available for Him to communicate His grace and love to others through us.
Father, thank You for yesterday and all it held. Thank You that we are now charter members of the Nagasaki Parkinson’s Disease Association. Thank You for the various people who were touched by our presence and participation in the meeting, and for how You allowed us to bless them. I pray that they, and everyone else we encounter, would be drawn to repentance and faith by Your Spirit, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!