Read Acts 23
Focus on verse 11
Every once in a while one discovers that what one thought was a setback turns out to be moving us toward our objective. This kind of thing is particularly encouraging when it feels like one is being opposed in every corner.
In today’s reading the Apostle Paul finds himself in the custody of the Roman cohort that rescued him from the Jews who were trying to kill him. It would seem that he was in need of a little assurance from God that things were still going according to plan since God sees fit to offer Paul just such a word.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome. ( v. 11)
Apparently Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem is part of the plan that will bring him to Rome. It seems to be a very common occurrence especially among those who follow Jesus, that we discover that God’s way of helping us achieve His objectives is not exactly the same as the way that we had in mind.
I rather suspect that when Paul first became aware of God’s plan to have him testify in Rome, that Paul may have had the idea in his head that he would find his way there on one of his missionary journeys. It is in this chapter that Paul begins to realize that it may be that he will go to Rome in chains as prisoner, and that this is why his journey had to begin in Jerusalem. Whatever the case may be, it seems Paul was quick to adapt his plan to God’s, and that is perhaps the greatest lesson we can take from this account.
When things don’t go as we have planned them, it may well be that they are still going exactly according to the plan God has for us. The more quickly we can adjust our thinking accordingly, the more likely it will be that we will stop fighting what God is trying to do and begin to be willing to work with him on it. If God sees fit, He may even find a way to communicate some word of encouragement to us along the way to keep us from becoming disheartened.