I have been reading through Acts these past few months and have been challenged by the life of Paul. False accusations, death threats, stoning, imprisonment, shipwreck, and snakebite, are just some of the things that Paul endured on his faith journey.
From the moment of his conversion, which was dramatic enough, he was faced with opposition from the Jewish believers. At first, their aggression came from fear; remember, he was the one persecuting them right up until his encounter with Jesus. As time passed, their aggression became more about not believing Paul’s gospel message boldly proclaimed. Despite his struggles and hardships, Paul never wavered in his faith.
Can we say the same thing?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been thrown in prison, beaten, tossed around in a violent storm, or shipwrecked. Though one could argue the last few years have felt like one violent storm after another. Yet the question remains, how did his faith remain so strong?
Let’s look at three characteristics of Paul’s faith:
1. He chooses to give thanks to God despite the storm (Acts 27:35)
He is a prisoner on a ship in the middle of a storm; the winds rise, and the seas raging. They are tossed up and down through the sea and haven’t eaten for two weeks – that would make me crazy. Yet it is at this point that Paul calls to the soldiers and the other prisoners, he tells them how God will save them all, that they need to eat for strength, and then he breaks the bread and gives thanks to God. Because of this, we read, “Then they were all encouraged” (Acts 27:36) Our thanksgiving not only strengthens our faith, but it also encourages those around us.
2. He chooses to praise God in the middle of the night (Acts 16:22-26)
Paul has been whipped and beaten, not just once, but many times as scripture tells us, and then he is thrown in jail. Though this was not the kind of jail we know of today. There would’ve been nothing of comfort, no bedding, sanitation, or food, and because the jailer locked him in the inner prison, it meant darkness, cold, and probably little fresh air. In the middle of this, what we could easily describe as a hopeless situation, Paul
begins praying and singing hymns to God!! This powerful praise opened all the doors and broke all the chains, and made way for the Jailer and his family to be saved (Acts 16:33) Worship is powerful. Praising God has the power to break the chains of bondage and set us free, and we are set free, God can use us to save others.
3. He recalls God’s faithfulness and chooses to trust Him no matter the trials (Acts 26:19-22)
He knew that God had called him to preach the gospel first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Yet the Jews tried to kill him many times. He faced relentless persecution yet continued to trust God and obey the call of Jesus. He reminds himself of and declares God’s faithful help even to the King at Caesarea before he is sent to Rome. When we declare out loud that God is our help, no matter what the day holds, we remind ourselves that we are held by Him through it all.
Over and over, we see Paul remain steadfast and faithful to God amidst great suffering. We can see from his life that the key to a strong faith, despite the storms and trials thrown our way, is to trust God, praise Him, and thank Him through it all.
Friend, can I encourage you today to find something, despite the weight you carry or the battle you face, find something to give thanks for. Remember His faithfulness to you and be thankful. Look for the sunset and praise God for the beauty in His creation. Make the choice to trust Him. Trust that He is always good, always faithful, and always with you, no matter the storm; surely, that will strengthen our faith!
Laura Jane Anslow
This article was first published in Kingdom Edge Magazine
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