Keep Up Your Courage
Acts 23:11 ¶ That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”
Paul was on a trajectory that would ultimately lead to his death yet, in the midst of it all, the Lord came near to him and told him to keep up his courage. For Paul there needed to be an understanding that all of this was a part of God’s plan and leading. This was the course laid out ahead of Paul. He had testified for Jesus in Jerusalem, but he had to also get to Rome. How would he get there? As a “guest” of the Roman government.
The circumstances in which Paul found himself were not pleasant and there may be times in life when we find ourselves at a place where life has become extremely difficult. We may receive a diagnosis that throws us for a loop. We may have found a wrinkle in the course we thought was laid out before us. We may have barriers to a relationship that we thought was going well. We may have financial difficulties we would have never expected. And the list goes on.
But in the very midst of the struggles, while Paul is in jail, “the Lord stood near him.” I’m thinking that may have been even more significant than the words that the Lord spoke. There is a promise here for us. When we find ourselves in those difficult circumstances, the Lord comes and stands near to us. His holy presence surrounds us and a holy hush washes over our spirit and brings us such peace. It is his presence that will go with us, whether in jail, or on a boat, or to a new city, or to the doctor’s office, or through surgery, or to the creditors...for God truly does have a plan.
Everywhere that Paul went, he made use of the opportunity. Nothing was ever wasted on Paul because he saw each bend in the road as a bend provided by God. Was there an unexpected detour in the journey? Then there must be a reason why. Paul had testified for the Lord in Jerusalem — now he would get to testify in Rome. We have had the privilege of testifying about the grace of Jesus where we are now — but will we be faithful throughout the journey ahead?
The words were for Paul, but they are for us today as well. “Keep up your courage!” The Lord is near to you, and the Lord has a plan in all of this. This is the course laid before you and you are to walk in it and bear witness to the Lord all along the way. That is God’s plan. We are simply to go with him on the journey. So today, “keep up your courage!” God really is in charge.
Lord, thank you for coming and standing near. Amen.