Paul the powerful. Paul the Apostle. Paul the miracle worker. Paul, who faced down Romans, Greeks, Jewish authorities, and false believers. Paul, who overcame stoning, beatings, and arrest. What was Paul?
Paul was afraid. Four times in scripture we read that Paul was afraid for his well-being. While in Corinth, Paul experienced fear so great the Lord himself spoke to relieve his fears, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9). While aboard a doomed ship at sea the Lord spoke to Paul, calming his fears, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar” (Acts 27:24). Twice Paul admitted to the Corinthians that he was afraid. “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (I Corinthians 2:3). “For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within” (II Corinthians 7:5).
To us, reading Paul’s story, we see a giant of a man, perhaps a fearless man. He would go anywhere, face anything, to be a witness for Christ. Nothing seemed to stand in his way. Yet, like us, Paul was afraid. The difference between Paul and us—sometimes—is that Paul didn’t let his fear stand in the way of what he knew he must do. He was afraid. He did it anyway.
What do you fear today? Take courage. For the same Paul who experienced great fear also said this:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).