If you visit Rome, you can see the dungeon that once housed the apostle Paul. You can stand within the same four solid walls that once formed his cell. There are no windows, no doors, no way of escape; and yet, for Paul, it was not a place of defeat or fear. It was a place of both victory and hope. Although Paul was confined physically, he was free spiritually.
When Paul got to Rome, the first thing he did was share with his fellow Jews the Truth about Jesus. The Bible says they objected. But Paul knew that objections and objectors could not halt the work of God. He knew that what Satan employs as obstacles, God uses as instruments to sanctify His servants and fulfill His purpose.
The moment after he drew his last earthly breath, he was embraced by the Lord.
Paul's obedience led him to three years in a Caesarean prison and two years under house arrest in Rome. But in these seemingly inconvenient situations, Paul was able to preach to kings and governors. Under house arrest in Rome, Paul wrote some of the most joyful, peaceful, and exciting epistles that we read, learn from, and rejoice in today: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 2 Timothy.
We know that from his Roman dungeon Paul was led to his execution. Yet, even in death, Paul did not face defeat. The moment after he drew his last earthly breath, he was embraced by the Lord. Note that Luke, the author of Acts, didn't end the book with more information about Paul's life or his execution. From God's perspective, the details of Paul's death were not important. What is important is that he finished well.
Today, the worldwide growth of the church testifies to God's foundational work through those who remained faithful to God's call even when their faith was tested. The disciples' attitude in difficult times should not only challenge us but also encourage us that we can have the same perspective in our own trials, sufferings, and even persecution.
Just days before he met Jesus face to face, Paul was able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day" (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Are you ready to say the same? May the example of Paul and others inspire you in the strength of the Holy Spirit to run the race set before you so that you may finish well and get the prize.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the example of so many faithful brothers and sisters who have come before me proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel without regard for their own comfort. May I likewise trust in You for my every need and finish the race You have given me for Your glory and my good. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!" (Acts 28:31).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon Looking Up When Life's Got You Down, Part 13: LISTEN NOW