There are bad days and then there are BAD days. We’ve all had them, and some of you might be experiencing such a day right now. Sometimes our bad days are caused by bad decisions we’ve made. Many times, we are reaping what we sowed. When we look back on those times, we can often find points along the way where we ignored sound advice and stifled that still small voice that warned us.
Other times, through no fault of our own, circumstances so align that we are placed in what can only be described as a bad day. An unexpected tragedy, medical emergencies, natural calamities and the list of bad day triggers goes on and on.
No one is immune from having bad days. No matter how circumspect we live our lives, none of us know what today holds, let alone tomorrow. The challenge is not in avoiding bad days; it’s in how we react to them.
Paul was having a BAD day. He’d been aggressively spreading the gospel to Gentiles throughout the region and his efforts were met with hatred by his Jewish brothers and a bit of skepticism by his church comrades. Acting on well-meaning but bad advice, Paul set in motion the actions as recorded in Acts 21.
One minute we see Paul in the temple worshiping, the next he is being dragged outside to be killed.
And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple. Acts 21:30
While being savagely beaten, the Roman military comes to his rescue. So intense was that moment that the Bible records Paul being literally carried to prevent the mob from killing him.
Acts 22 and Acts 23 record Paul’s defense of his witness. It was to no avail, as those who considered themselves chosen and exclusively connected with God only had revenge, hatred, and murder on their minds. (Faulty religion can be a dangerous thing.)
How Paul could bear up under such circumstances and remain focused on his purpose is noteworthy. He did not meet cursing with cursing, violence with violence nor lies with lies. He remained true to who he was. Although it appeared as if he was all alone going through this fight for his life, he was not.
But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11
I believe this is really the most important verse of all we have read this week. It’s a verse that reveals God’s keen interest in His children. It’s a verse that gives us insight into how to survive our worst days. It’s a verse that describes how we don’t weep as others weep nor mourn as others mourn.
I am fascinated that during Paul’s worst experience His Savior’s words to him were to “Be of good cheer.” I hear Him saying to Paul, “Don’t worry about what is happening around you and to you, I AM with you and you can have complete confidence in Me.”
I like this definition of the word confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. Confidence in his Lord is what Paul had and what we need. Surviving a bad day, a tragic experience, or a life-changing event is assured when our confidence is not in ourselves or man, but in God. Even, as the saying goes, during those times when we can’t trace Him, we can trust Him.
“The apostle exclaims: “How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33. We can so far comprehend His dealings with us, and the motives by which He is actuated, that we may discern boundless love and mercy united to infinite power. Our Father in heaven orders everything in wisdom and righteousness, and we are not to be dissatisfied and distrustful, but to bow in reverent submission. He will reveal to us as much of His purposes as it is for our good to know, and beyond that we must trust the Hand that is omnipotent, the Heart that is full of love.” Ellen White, Great Controversy 527
What makes confidence in God more than a notion for the believer is the second part of the message Paul received that night of his confinement.
“for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11
Paul had a mission in his life that he was following. That is key for us all. Our confidence is based on knowing that we are doing exactly what God has instructed us to do with our lives. If we are walking in the path that He has outlined for us, we can have confidence that not only is He with us but also that we will have success.
No person has ever followed the direction of God and not ultimately been successful. I say ultimately because it may appear to the casual observer that there are no fruits to the labor. However, eternity will reveal all that the mortal eyes failed to see but that heaven recorded.
Our task today is to do faithfully whatever God has purposed for us. Along the way, we will undoubtedly meet circumstances that are less than ideal. Opposition to advancing God’s kingdom is assured. But take it from Paul himself who knew a little about enduring, that everything will work out ok.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does being faithful to God mean to you?
- What, if anything, can a person do to increase their faith?
- What does 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” mean?
- Does more faith translate into more peace? Why yes or no?
- What does 1 Timothy 6:2 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” mean?
- Does God leave us to ourselves when our bad days are the result of being disobedient to what we knew to be right? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: We don’t necessarily have to study our Bibles to increase our faith. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on Arrest in Jerusalem with the words of Jesus as he spoke to his disciples and to all who would believe on His name throughout time. These are words that Paul’s life of service was fueled by.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!