A death threat, court trials, prison, a shipwreck caused by a “northeaster,” and a snakebite! When Paul prayed fervently to go to Rome, I doubt he'd have ever guessed how much he'd go...
A death threat, court trials, prison, a shipwreck caused by a “northeaster,” and a snakebite! When Paul prayed fervently to go to Rome, I doubt he'd have ever guessed how much he'd go through to get there, much less that he'd arrive as a prisoner (Acts 28:16). At the end of the Book of Acts, God creatively answered Paul’s prayer. God does amazing things, doesn't He? He takes a terrorist determined to wipe out the Church and transforms him into a man who wrote almost half of the books of the New Testament.
Speaking of which, when Paul penned Romans, he hadn't made it there yet; but his heart was with them. He prays in Romans 1:10 with complete alignment to God’s plan. Here, and in Romans 15:32, Paul writes "by God’s will." Paul is praying that God’s desires would be his desires. Oh, that is so hard. God’s way is often not neat and easy. It’s hard to the point of wondering if God is really faithful when your ship goes down—when the “northeaster” blows in and disrupts life as you know it.
My own shipwreck occurred when my husband was unemployed for two years. My worst fear was a reality that gripped with a fierce, unrelenting hold. Was this really God’s will for me?
Two things encouraged me through that period of time:
- God’s promises in Scripture.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." (James 1:2-3)
The testing of my faith DID produce a steadfastness. Like a ship anchored in a storm, I was anchored in the hope that God would redeem this situation unexpectedly. He did!
- The mutual encouragement of our faith.
Our family and friends encouraged us, prayed for us, and helped practically in so many ways. It truly was a group effort to finally overcome unemployment!
I can only imagine the relief Paul felt when he finally came ashore near Rome, sea-legged and weary. He made it! At long last, he could wrap his arms around believers, fortified in their encouragement.