“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” (Acts 18:9-11)
It happens to the best of us. One minute Elijah was slaying the priests of Baal and the next hiding from Jezebel. One minute Peter was ready to go to death for Jesus and the next was denying that he was even Jesus’ follower. Here Paul had been experiencing some wonderful responses, but recently he had been facing a lot of opposition. You and I can relate to all these great individuals of faith. We, too, have floated from one extreme (absolute faith and certainty) to the other extreme (skepticism and doubt). The Lord speaks to the heart of Paul in a vision and tells him “Do not be afraid.” He calls Paul to walk by his eyes of faith and not his eyes of sight. A cursory view of the Scriptures would tell us that things are not always as they seem. Our sight is limited. God sees everything. God knows everything that is going on and tells Paul not to be afraid.
The Lord’s admonishment to Paul is very similar to the one He gave Joshua in the Old Testament. He told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you will go. And the Lord was right. He led Joshua into battles with armies far superior to that of the Israelites, yet the Israelites won. Why? How? Because God saw and knew things that Joshua didn’t. The same with Elijah, Paul, Peter, and you and me. Sometimes we have to close our eyes to see the world around us the way God does. It is my prayer that we grow, day by day, to walk by faith and not by sight.