Acts 25-28 tells us of dark days in Paul’s life, one of the sub-heroes in our epic story’s iteration – the founding of the early church. Saul, one of the chief enemies of early Christians, changes his name to Paul after an encounter with the risen Christ. As a believer, based in Antioch, Syria, Paul travels with companions around the Mediterranean Sea area sharing his story and gradually heading to Rome. Paul is imprisoned in Caesarea and offered the opportunity to plead his case before the officials in Jerusalem with his accusers. Realizing this is a set up for an unfair trial, Paul declares, “I appeal to Caesar!” He is a Roman citizen and has a right to a fair trial in Rome. Off he is sent, a prisoner. But on the ship voyage across the sea, a huge storm blows up and there is a shipwreck. Paul, the prisoner, is instrumental in saving all from drowning. Eventually he arrives in Rome. Awaiting trial, Chapter 28:30, 31 ends the book of Acts and our story of Paul, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance
Acts is an action packed narrative of the adventures of the early disciples and Christians that gradually produced the early church as God, the Holy Spirit, led and protected their lives. Some were martyred, all had rough times, but somehow their story spread and the known world was impacted. It is often in our darkest hours that it is easy to despair and feel like all is lost. Paul never lost focus on his story, though, and the reality of the God he appealed to. He did not allow the pressure of others’ opinions mold his identity. Secondly Paul was able to see the hand of God directing events to a meaningful goal. That is not a goal of self-fulfillment or health, wealth and prosperity all of which will pass, but a goal of growing God’s kingdom. Sometimes we pray asking God to open our eyes to the unseen story unfolding in the events of the day.
At the point of crisis, Paul yells, “I appeal to Caesar!” Who do we appeal to when we are under pressure? Where do we turn our eyes and hearts? Paul appealed to Caesar because he knew God wanted him to witness in Rome. So what comforts us from the story of Paul. God never abandoned Paul in his dark hours and Paul focused on that. God had a purpose in what Paul was going through and was moving Paul to where God wanted him. God has a purpose in the events of our lives too. We may not be able to appeal to Caesar of the government but we can always appeal to God who is an even higher authority and is always present by our side. Blessings.