Isn’t life a wonderful blessing! There are so many joys we can experience because of the goodness of the Lord. There are times when my heart wants to leap out of my chest with thankfulness at what the Lord has given me both in experience and in the physical blessings. However, sometimes life brings surprise and on occasions difficult situations. They say that through these times of adversity our faith grows deeper as we have to call out to the Lord for His strength.
I remember one such time. When I was concluding my profession as a Chief Town Planner before going to the mission field in Africa I had one such trial. I can testify to the goodness of God in how He helps you through such difficulties. It happened around a table in a restaurant. I had been attending a meeting of local government. Politicians and all senior staff were in attendance. I sat opposite the CEO as well as the Mayor. The CEO did not like town planners, Christians or blacks. I was a town planner. I was a Christian and I was going to Africa to take the love of Jesus to the blacks. For reasons that I still do not know he launched into a tirade of abuse toward me and all that was important to me. He blasphemed and called me an idiot. He was like Governor Festus in insinuating that I must be insane.
It was rather embarrassing to be truthful but I held my tongue and allowed the moment to pass. I felt terribly sad for this man. On my last day of employment I walked into the CEO’s office to say my goodbye. I gave him a copy of God’s word and encouraged him to read it. Three years later I returned to his office and he was far more willing to talk. He had not become a Christian but was very interested in what I had done and why I had done it. So I obliged and shared my heart with him. I hope and pray that this hardened and difficult man will come to know Jesus before he breathes his last. My faith grew on that day simply because of the hope I knew I had in Jesus!
Today, we witness Paul facing trial after trial as he seeks to defend himself against the hostility of the Jews. How does he survive beatings, imprisonment and the sheer hatred of the masses? Paul not only survives but thrives in this hot bed of abuse and persecution. He seizes these difficult times and sees them as opportunity – not to simply defend himself but to promote the cause of the gospel. His response is his testimony of who he was before meeting the risen Jesus and who he was after. His life had been totally transformed from a persecutor and murderer of Christians to a lover and defender of Jesus and those who follow Him. Staggering!