The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."
In Acts 23, Paul was thrown into prison. In this difficult time, Paul was probably feeling discouraged. The Lord stood near Paul one night and encouraged him to take courage, praised him for how he testified about God in Jerusalem and encouraged him to continue testifying in Rome.
We will face difficult times in our lives, as if we are imprisoned in our situations and there is no light. It could be situations where we have supervision deadlines that we are struggling to meet, concepts that we are struggling to understand, facing uncertainties about our future after university, or dealing with difficult people in our college, course or extra-curricular activities. It's alright to feel discouraged, but we need to turn to God, tell Him and take courage from Him.
Just as the Lord stood by Paul, we can be encouraged that the Lord stands by us during the difficult times of our lives and is also saying to us to take courage. Indeed we are to keep our focus on God, be sensitive to His presence with us and depend on His courage and strength to go through and continue to shine for Him.
Just as we have received encouragement from the Lord, I believe that we are to encourage others. This ties in with what we learnt during our bible study of Hebrews 3 last week, where it says in verse 13:
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today", that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
As shown above, Hebrews 3:13 goes beyond encouragement during times of difficulty, but encouragement when we are struggling with sin. I believe this is a reminder that we are one body of Christ and that we are not meant to run this spiritual journey alone. Perhaps, we also need to know what we are really pursuing in life, for it is only when we strive to grow close to God that we find peace and comfort in Him.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
In closing, may we praise God for standing by us and being with us to encourage us when we feel discouraged in our difficult situations and our walk with Him. May we also have the courage from God to persevere in our situations and shine for Him. Just as we have received courage and comfort, may we go out to impact the world to testify of God's goodness, and seek to encourage and comfort others that they may be encouraged and know Him too.