I can’t help but think that Paul felt the same thing Jesus did during his trial.
Like Jesus, Paul stood alone when he stood on trial for his life. All the people he could have reasonably expected to support him were nowhere to be seen.
And perhaps in remembering Jesus’ response to those who had failed him and his prayer at the cross, Paul now prayed,
May it not be held against them. (16)
But how was Paul able to stand facing the hostile “lions” in court?
Paul tells us.
But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (17)
Though Paul was abandoned by all his friends, he still sensed the Lord’s presence by his side. More, he sensed the Spirit working in him as he gave his defense, just as Jesus had promised his disciples. (Mark 13:11)
And so even in the midst of a trial to condemn him, Paul boldly preached the gospel.
But on top of that was the hope that Paul had. He said,
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (18)
Paul wasn’t saying that he believed God would spare his life. He fully believed his time had come and that he would die. (6)
But he knew that though the Romans could kill his body, they could not touch his soul. He was fully confident that God would take his soul to be with Christ forever. And because of that, he had peace.
How about you? Do you have the confidence, hope, and assurance that Paul had?
As I said before, Jesus never promised an easy life. On the contrary, he promised that we would face trouble. (John 16:33)
But in the midst of the fire, remember that Jesus is with you. Though everyone else may abandon you, he never will. And though your very life may be taken from you, he will guide you safely home.
So whatever you’re going through, hang in there. Don’t give up. Instead,
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
And as Paul prayed, so I pray for you now.
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. (22)