Updated: Aug 26
Last week during our morning Bible reading we came across a phrase I had not heard before. “The Lord stood near Paul.” Paul was under arrest by demand of the Jews who were so upset it caused a riot. Paul had to be forcibly taken away by the Roman guards so he wouldn't be severely injured or killed. Then something very unusual happened...
"The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said,
“Take courage! Acts 23:11 BSB
It was a difficult night for Paul imprisoned without just cause. He wanted to see his fellow Jews believe in the Jesus. The two opportunities he had to preach to them failed.
As if that wasn't bad enough, a mob of forty Jewish assassins made a vow to go on a hunger strike until Paul was murdered. The personal attacks and accusations must have been filled with emotional and spiritual darkness. It is possible that Paul was tormented with a sense of uselessness and thoughts of "this is the end" for him.
It was in the darkness and discouragement, and amidst fears and failures, that Jesus physically came and stood next to Paul. It was a huge visual for Paul to see Jesus stand with him. Paul had been delivered from jail before by God’s intervention. Even escorted by heavenly angels (Acts 5) but not this time. Instead Jesus Himself came to encourage Paul.
How many times have we asked Jesus to deliver us ‘out’ of our trying circumstances when Jesus may want to meet us ‘in’ them. Most times if you are like me you want to escape the situation. However, there are times when Jesus wants to meet you in middle of your struggle.
Jesus said to Paul, "Be of good cheer.” He knew Paul needed encouragement and came personally to re-assure him. Jesus wanted Paul to know He was with him and he is in God’s will.
In the middle of this desperate situation Jesus comforts Paul by saying 'be of good cheer.' A phrase that is one word in the Ancient Greek “tharseo” and only used five times in the New Testament and only by Jesus. This was a power word from the All-powerful One.
Here are five reasons why sometimes we must go through struggles.
To Learn and understand whatever He wants to teach us.
To Grow and mature in our ability to overcome battles and struggles.
To Strengthen Us in our character and faith to be a stronger person.
To Find the New Thing or dimension waiting for you. As a butterfly struggles to get out of the cocoon to its new life so we must break the barriers to the new God has for us.
To Get Closer to Jesus. I am sure Paul felt a deeper affection or bond with Jesus since He stood with him and went through the struggle together.
I want to encourage you no matter what your struggles or circumstance if Jesus doesn’t deliver you ‘out’ of them He wants to stand with you ‘in’ them. Be happy the Lord will stand with you! Remember, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me." Ps 23:4 NLT