Desperate circumstances, strained relationships, perilous events, even physical beatings and imprisonment—the Apostle Paul knew them all. In a letter to the Christian church at Corinth he recounts his sufferings for Christ, then makes a startling statement: “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).
As a result of a strengthening message he received from God, Paul was even able to recommend “good cheer” at a time of extreme circumstances (see Acts 27). As a prisoner on a ship headed for Rome, he had been caught in a storm that had raged for many days. The circumstances appeared inescapable. The seamen were gripped by fear and all hope of being saved was gone. The Bible says, “But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.”
Perhaps the Roman centurion in charge heard the ring of truth in his words, for when “they ran the ship aground” and his soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners lest they escape, the centurion commanded instead that they be allowed to swim to shore, because he wanted to save Paul. All 276 people aboard the ship were saved.