Delays in the Life of Paul
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine (Romans 1:11-12).
Fear gripped me. Sleepless nights exhausted me. Unexpected guilt pounced on me. I was a Christian. How could this be happening to me? Aren’t Christians supposed to be strong and resilient? Aren’t we supposed to be able to bear up under anything in life with a smile on our faces and no thoughts of fear? Yet I was in a pit – a pit that seemed to be getting deeper. Where was God?
What I didn’t realize was that my precious Jesus was sitting in the pit with me. He was there, holding me in His everlasting arms. The walk with despair and loneliness seemed endless, yet the result after years of searching, pleading, and praying, led me straight into those arms. Through Scripture and the prayers of friends and family, I discovered not only Who He was but Who He IS. And the delay in revealing that, exposed a trust and confidence that could only have been created through His Holy Spirit for He was on this walk with me from the first day until now.
Through the Bible, I was reminded that even the Apostle Paul experienced pits in his life that caused confusion for he was afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). And that was only the beginning, for he also shared that during his journeys for the Lord, he received thirty-nine lashes five times, was beaten with rods three times, and was stoned. In addition, he was shipwrecked, adrift at sea, and in constant danger from robbers, his own countrymen, and from the Gentiles (2 Corinthians 11:24-26). In all this, he could still say, “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness…I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 11:29-30 and 12:10 NIV).
In all these, Paul clung to the cross of Christ for redemption, mercy, and the power to move onward. He knew that God’s planning was his to perform and God’s new intended direction would be revealed. In his letter to the Romans, Paul shares how God’s delays were only used to increase his own personal witness to the Gentiles.
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles (Romans 1:11-13).
We can be assured that not a single situation or circumstance in the lives of those who love Him will go without the promise to use it for good (Romans 8:28). Whether experiencing personal tragedies, national catastrophes, or worldwide calamities, God will use them for the good of His believing children and reveal His glory in the process. We may never see those results in our lifetimes, but He is faithful to His promises and will expose it in His chosen time.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I thank You that Your wisdom knows what is best for me and all believers. Give me the faith to believe this, no matter how difficult the delays and circumstances are in my life. In Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen.