Paul was a man who knew what it was like to experience hardship. In those difficult moments, Paul could, in good conscience, exhort his son in the faith, Timothy, to endure hardship like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. In the last few chapters of Acts, we read the story of a plot by the Jews to kill Paul. Made aware of the evil scheme, Paul appealed to Caesar in order to avoid sure death.
Taken on a prison boat, God warned Paul if they continued on their course, they would suffer shipwreck. He told the authorities, but they didn’t heed his word. When they encountered a great storm, an angel appeared to Paul and told him no lives would be lost even though the ship would be destroyed. The ship ran aground and began to break apart. The sailors grabbed hold of pieces of driftwood and God delivered them all safely to the island, Malta.
Thankfully, the island people were friendly and began to build a fire to warm the drenched crew. Paul figured that he would help out in the gathering of the firewood only to be bitten by a poisonous snake. He simply shook it off into the fire and went about his business. The islanders expected him to die, but God had other plans. When he didn’t expire, the locals considered him to be a god. Obviously, he shut that down but was able to use the circumstance as an opportunity to talk to them about the true God.
The leader of the people of that land’s father was ill and close to death, and Paul prayed for him, and he was instantly healed. After that, many of the islanders were brought to Paul for prayer, and God healed them all. When it was time to move on to Rome, these new friends supplied everything needed for the journey.
When Paul arrived at Rome, he expected to be met with great opposition from the Jewish leaders. Instead, they were open to hearing his story, and many came to faith in Jesus Christ. He was placed under house arrest with one guard and for the next 2 years. His doors were always open to anyone who wanted to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness to Paul throughout his life and the message of the Gospel.
What Paul understood and what I often forget is in the midst of the darkest night the light of Jesus can shine brightly. He knew as long as he was meant to be on this earth that nothing could take him out. He would continue to fight the good fight and would finish his race with the grace only God can provide. How about you? Are you discouraged with your present circumstance? Have you been thinking about giving up? Don’t do it! Instead, put your hope and trust in a living Savior who loves you and takes the difficult tests of this life and makes them into beautiful testimonies for His name’s sake.