Instead of preaching the Gospel in Rome, Paul finds himself languishing in the custody of the the Roman Governor, Felix, in Caesarea for two years. The ways of God are not very often clear to us. So all there is to do is wait and see. Paul is famous for the beatings he took and the number of times he narrowly escaped death. But when you consider all that he packed into his life and ministry, this two year period in custody, relatively comfortable as is was, must have been frustratingly hard to bear. So how did he keep his spirits up? He must have gone through times of depression and doubt as he waited to be released. How hopeless Paul must have felt, having told Felix and his wife everything about the good news of Jesus over a period of years, only to be left behind in prison when Felix was succeeded. What happens to your faith when nothing appears to work out?
Acts 24:20-27 NLT
Ask these men here what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of, except for the one time I shouted out, ‘I am on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead!’” At that point Felix, who was quite familiar with the Way, adjourned the hearing and said, “Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander, arrives. Then I will decide the case.” He ordered an officer to keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his friends to visit him and take care of his needs. A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.” He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favour with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison.
All we can do in times when nothing seems possible is take inspiration from stories like Paul’s. We know what he achieved for the early church and how his work has been crucial to every Christian since. But its not just Paul who had to wait for God to move in his own time and according to his own plan. For example, we can also look at the story of Joseph way back in the book of Genesis. Here is another great man of God who had to live long periods of his live in apparent impotence and uselessness as a slave and in prison. My Goal is to remember these two great men and follow their example. I will try again to be patient and wait in faith for the Lord. It’s all too easy for us to want it all today, despite the promise of the treasures that God has in store for us later.
1 Chronicles 2:18-4:4, Acts 24:1-27, Psalms 4:1-8, Proverbs 18:16-18