Paul’s voyage to Rome, as recorded in Acts 27-28, is some of the most interesting passages in all the New Testament. With depth of detail, Luke
brings to life the voyage, the storms, the sailing conditions, being lost at sea and the shipwreck on Malta that nearly cost the lives of 276 people. Finally, after several months of traveling, Paul and his companions landed in Italy and made their way to Rome. Along the way, brethren from Rome came to meet Paul as he made his way to the capital. The text says that when Paul saw them, that is the brethren from Rome, “he thanked God and took courage” (Act 28:15). There are two lessons that I would like for us to take away from this short verse:
The first is, give God thanks, for His ways are right. Paul had longed to see the brethren in Rome (Rom 1:8-15) and he had planned to see them as he traveled to Spain (Rom 15:24). To aid him in coming to them quickly he asked them to pray that he would be delivered from the unbelieving Jews in Judea, that his service of bringing the gift of relief to the church in Jerusalem would be acceptable, and that he would come to them with joy (Rom 15:30-32). Paul was finally able to see the brethren but as a prisoner instead of a freeman. Nevertheless, Paul gave thanks for God’s way of bringing him to Rome because it was the right way.
It’s so easy for us to think that God should answer our prayers in the manner in which we deem best. But when God answers us, whether it is with a yes, no, or not right now, let’s give thanks, for His ways are right. Paul’s trip to Rome was long (nearly three years after he wrote Romans); it was fraught with danger (he nearly lost his life three times) and on the surface it seemed like there could have been a better way to answer Paul’s prayer. Yet, Paul gave thanks when he arrived in Rome. Can’t we do the same? When we don’t get the job we wanted, or a family member doesn’t recover from a sickness like we wanted can’t we give thanks for God’s answer? Sure we can, because we know that His ways are right. We may not always know God’s plan for us but no matter where he leads, His ways are always right.
The second is, be a source of encouragement to someone else. What a sight it must have been to witness Paul seeing all the brethren come out to meet him along the Roman road. There must have been tears, prayers, hugs, and words of encouragement from the scriptures. Some of those who came out to see Paul would have been old friends (Rom 16:1-15), while others would have been meeting him for the first time. But the sight of these brethren and their demonstration of love caused him to be encouraged as he faced an unknown fate in Rome.
Let’s not underestimate the value of encouragement. Because the saints in Rome came out to see Paul he filled with courage to fight on for another day. We can do the same for someone else. We can do the same for a person who has been tossed to and fro by the storms of life. We can do the same for a person who has made shipwreck of their life. We can do the same for the person who is waiting on the Lord. We can do the same for the person who faces an uncertain future after life has thrown them a curveball. We can be a source of encouragement that helps them fight on for another day and it’s so simple… just be there for them. Cry with them. Pray with them. Hug them. Read your Bible with them. Walk with them. You never know; you might just be the person who gives them the courage to fight on another day.
We have learned two very powerful lessons from this short verse; (1) give God thanks, for His ways are right, (2) be a source of encouragement to someone else. I hope that you will take these jewels of wisdom to heart. If you need help in finding your way, you know I’m always here to lend a hand. God bless.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org