Today’s Reading: Acts 23:11-35 (additional reading: Psalm 3:1-8 & Proverbs 18:14-15)

Author Leo Buscaglia tells this story about his mother and their “misery dinner.” It was the night after his father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy because his partner had absconded with their firm’s funds. His mother went out and sold some jewelry to buy food for a sumptuous feast. Other members of the family scolded her for it. But she told them that “the time for joy is now, when we need it most, not next week.” Her courageous act rallied the family.  Have you ever wondered why God waits to send His encouragement to us when situations appear to be at their worst?

It unlikely that few of us will ever experience anything as terrible as Paul endured in this passage. Paul is surrounded by angry prisoners, ready to tear him apart; limb from limb. The Roman commandant is so afraid that Paul will be tortured to death in the group cell that he orders his troops to take him forcibly from them and escort him back to the safety of the military barracks. All human hope is gone. Paul is hated, misunderstood and imprisoned for doing God’s will. Talk about injustice, Paul could have easily sunk into depression and quit.

Whenever you are feeling helpless, hopeless or misunderstood remember these words from God to Paul, “Take courage – Be of good cheer!” (Acts 20:11) God tells Paul, “For as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Ask the Lord to help you open your spiritual eyes and ears to the light, love and encouragement found in Christ. (Phil. 2:1,2) When Paul must have felt most perplexed, confused and troubled, God sent clarification. The great apostle must have wondered if this would be his last moment on earth. No doubt he probably wondered if he would die as a martyr in this frenzied jail house. Here was a man who wanted to preach the gospel in many more lands, but he must have felt a sense of resignation in the face of such terrible opposition and adversity.

When conditions got to their worse, God came to Paul in the night. Never doubt God’s ability to come to you according to His perfect scheduling. We may feel totally distraught, disillusioned and despondent, but God is able to provide clarifying light just when we need it most.

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