“Be happy in your confidence,
be patient in trouble,
and pray continually.”
Paul, in my opinion, was a wild man. He was straightforward, brutally honest at times, passionate, and literally all over the map. He didn’t do anything half-way, but threw himself fully, tirelessly, into whatever was on his heart and had captured his attention. I have met a few of those in my lifetime. Fun to watch, but can be exhausting to live with. 😉
Back to Paul, considering how extremely active he was in carrying the Good News to many nations, he has boiled down priorities of living Life to a few points:
- “Be happy in your confidence”… Paul was in the middle of the Roman-occupied world, with its brutal, arrogant power on earth at that time. Rome had taken over his own country, especially thriving on brutalizing those who worshiped Jesus, Whom they had literally crucified. Paul was addressing Romans who had become followers of Jesus at great risk of their lives. For Paul to have and encourage “confidence” within that setting is incredible!
- “Be patient in trouble.” … Imagine what “trouble” looked like, not only for Paul, but for all those Roman Believers living in the center of a powerful nation that was actively trying to wipe Christ-followers off the earth. As I write this, my own world is in the middle of a pandemic that has changed everything. . . our world, and life as we’d known it. “Be patient,” he says. That’s tough. We are having a very tough time being patient to follow a new way of life for only a few months…
For the past 21 years, I have been privileged to personally watch a living example of a small nation (the Saharawi people) living under the effects of a conquering nation, as Rome was to Israel. Brutally forced from their homes by an enemy nation, they have somehow retained their dignity, kindness, and integrity in spite of all they have suffered. To be patient through a season of life is difficult. But to be patient under decades of suffering, especially as the world looks away, is extraordinary.
Paul had grown up under Rome’s occupation of Israel and knew the powerful effects of that kind of experience.
- “…and Pray continually.” We have troubles that we cannot fix. They’re beyond our control. Paul has nailed the only absolute action we can take in the midst of the kind of “trouble” far beyond our repair. It requires looking to God… It means pouring out our hearts to Him, and humbly asking Him to step into the situation with us. It means giving up our own control, and choosing to trust Him.
Paul could have had a very different life. He had gained “success” in his nation. Fame, respect, strong leadership, prominence, power, and all that comes with such a life was part of Paul’s story.
But after being literally “knocked off his high horse” when he encountered the resurrected living Jesus, all of that changed. His new-found confidence in Christ became his driving force, “patience in trouble”…which dogged Paul for the rest of his life, became his new message to all those who had also come to follow the resurrected Christ. And the necessity to “pray continually” became his lifeline.
Like a skilled attorney, he traveled his world presenting the Good News of the One he had spent so many years actively condemning. And the articulate speaker who had worked so tirelessly to silence the message of Jesus, became His relentless Follower, and voice. Paul’s simple “Three Point Message” is as true for us now as it had been when Paul said it:
“Be happy in your confidence [what you know is true],
be patient in trouble [hard realities],
and pray continually.”