A Study of Acts 18
Katie McKenna was run over by a truck. She was 24 years old, riding her bicycle through Brooklyn. She shouldn’t have survived the wreck. Every rib was broken, and her internal bleeding was so severe a priest gave her last rites. She was in surgery for many hours; in the hospital for many weeks. When she returned home from the hospital she was still traumatized physically and psychologically. But her parents were there to help her. This is what she wrote:
The question I would always ask them, and I asked it all the time, was if it was going to be okay. I wasn’t even sure of what “it” was; I just needed reassurance. I needed to know someone had faith that everything was going to be alright. My mom and dad did that for me—they were hopeful, so I was hopeful; they were sure, so I was sure. Without them I would have fallen into the dark side of my fear. They pulled me into the light of a better future.
That’s the ministry of reassurance. That’s one of the best examples of reassurance I’ve ever read about. We need someone to tell us it is going to be okay, whatever “it” is. We need someone to give us reassurance about life. When they are hopeful, it helps us be hopeful.
Well, we have someone who can do that better than anyone else. Today I’d like to talk about tapping into the Lord’s marvelous ministry of reassurance. Let’s read about, starting in Acts 18:1:
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
Paul didn’t stay in Athens and build a church there. Athens had been the center of the Greek or Hellenistic empire, the center of philosophy and academia. But Paul was strategic. Athens represented the past, but Corinth represented the future.
Corinth was a major city in Southern Greece about fifty miles from Athens. It was a very strategic location on the Mediterranean. Trade and commerce led to constant traffic in and out of the city.
Furthermore, Corinth was a new city. The Romans had totally destroyed the old city of Corinth and completely rebuilt it. So it was literally a new city. There was no building older than one hundred years, and it was the most Roman city in Greece. It had a very large population of Romans, Greeks, and Jews. So there was a large Jewish quarter there. It was new, gleaming, and known for its commerce and for its pleasures.
Corinth was also much larger, with sources claiming the total population was 5 to 20 times the size of Athens at an estimated 700,000 total people.
Furthermore, the Isthmian Games were held in Corinth and brought thousands of people from all over the empire.
On a hill above the town stood the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, passion, and pleasure. And inside the city were other pagan temples, including the temple of the sun god Apollo. Corinth was renowned for its immorality.
Paul spent a year-and-a-half in Corinth, but Luke gives us a rather brief account. The stories of Paul’s time in Philippi and in Thessalonica are both longer, though Paul spent much less time there. In chapter 17, Paul was in Athens for just a short time, yet that account is longer than the story of his 18 months in Corinth. Luke wasn’t trying to give us a complete history. But there was one story he wanted to tell, and it has to do with God’s reassurance.
So let’s continue with verse 2:
There [in Corinth] he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come to Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
Aquila and Priscilla were a remarkable couple. They show up several times in the New Testament, and Aquila is never mentioned by himself. Priscilla is never mentioned by herself. They are always mentioned together, as a couple. This was one of the Bible’s great marriages. It was a marriage devoted to ministry. And Priscilla is often mentioned first, which is unusual in writings from antiquity. Most people believe it’s because she was the most vivacious of the two. Perhaps Aquila was quieter, and she was the one with the gift of vivid personality.
Like Paul, they were Christian tentmakers. So here in this pagan and evil city, God provided Paul with two fellow Christians who helped him earn some money. I like to imagine these three working together in the shop, talking to customers, trying to sell their tents. How would you like to have the apostle Paul as your salesman, trying to get you to buy a tent or some leather accessories?
Paul did this six days a week, but on the Sabbath he went to the local synagogue.
Verse 4 says, Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Think of how ordinary these three people were! They were leather workers through the week, and they went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Verse 5 says, When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
We know from other passages that Silas and Timothy brought a financial offering from the churches in Macedonia, up to the north. Those would be the churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. They wanted to provide financial support for the missionary who had brought them to Christ and had been driven out of the land. So this allowed Paul to stop making tents and start preaching and teaching seven days a week.
At first he worked exclusively among the Jews, for those were his natural connections. He had worshipped with some of these people every Sabbath. Now he was able to really work intensively among them: following up on the relationships, drawing them into conversations, perhaps visiting in their homes, and telling them about Jesus.
His message was not universally accepted.
Verse 6 says: But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
That was Paul’s pronouncement. He was thinking of the prophet Ezekiel here. The Lord had told Ezekiel that if he preached repentance but the people didn’t believe, their blood would be on their own heads. Paul used this language from Ezekiel.
I don’t believe his pronouncement indicated a major shift in his overall ministry, only in his ministry in Corinth. Later in Ephesus, Paul again went to the synagogue first. But he was saying that here in Corinth, most of the Jews had rejected his message. So he was going to turn his attention to the Gentiles.
There is an interesting principle here that I’m still trying to figure out. In Romans 1:16, which was written sometime afterward, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
I knew a woman years ago who was very strong in her conviction that we should first take the Gospel to the Jewish people, and then to the Gentiles. She felt, for example, that our church budget should include a regular amount devoted to Jewish evangelism. I’m not sure she’s wrong. As I’ve read and studied the book of Acts during this series of Bible studies, I’ve been struck again and again by the priority for evangelizing the Jewish people.
We must always keep the evangelization of the Jewish people in our hearts. One day when Christ returns, the Jewish people will turn to Him. But until then, their hearts are closed. But some are being saved as a harbinger of the future. This was true in Paul’s day too, and an amazing thing happened here in Acts 18. The local Jewish synagogue leader was among those who believed.
Verse 7 says, Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshipper of God. Crisptus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
This was the beginning of the church in Corinth. We know from the book of 1 Corinthians that Paul baptized Crisptus and his family, along with a few others.
But there was a lot of tension here. There’s no telling what slurs and threats some of these people shouted at Paul, and remember—he had already been through a lot.
I want to propose a theory that Paul was suffering from a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder because of the violence he had experienced so far on this missionary journey. We need to remember what had happened to Paul on this second missionary journey. He, along with Luke, Silas, and Timothy, had gone to Philippi, where Paul caused a riot and was stripped—either naked or near naked—and flogged, along with Silas. The text says he was severely flogged. The indication was that his skin had been sliced open with each whistling stroke of the rod, and the pain must have been unbearable. Then he was taken and put in stocks with no way of tending to his wounds, which would have been just screaming in pain.
I can’t imagine what he endured, and not even Paul was immune from post-traumatic stress. Then he was run out of Thessalonica and out of Berea. Everywhere he went, a riot broke out and he was in danger of more torture. So he had left his workers in those various cities, and he had traveled alone to Athens and Corinth. He later said in 1 Corinthians 2:3, that when he came to Corinth he arrived in weakness and was full of fear and trembling.
He felt he had been run over by a truck.
Trauma is an ongoing emotional response that follows something that has hit us with overwhelming stress—stress that exceeds our ability to cope with it. We know many people today who struggle with trauma, but people in antiquity faced trauma too.
Paul confessed he was living in fear and trembling. He needed some counseling. So one night here in Corinth, Jesus Christ Himself came down to visit Paul in a vision and to give him a remarkable message of divine reassurance. I don’t know if verse 9 is a summary of a longer conversation or if verses 9 and 10 represent the full extent of what Jesus said. But one thing I know. Because these words are recorded here in Acts 18:9-10, they have significance for us. They are for us too.
Verses 9-10 say: 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.”
We’re in a very tough world right now, and the evil is very strong. But the Lord has given us this message of reassurance. It has five parts.
1. Do Not Be Afraid
First, do not be afraid. According to the commentators, this is given in the present imperative sense which has the meaning of stop being afraid.
I’ve counted 74 times in the Bible when we read these four words, “Do not be afraid.” There are other times when similar phrases are used, such as “Do not fear.” People have claimed this command occurs 366 times, more than any other command in the Bible. Regardless of the validity of these details, I know it’s obviously in the Bible so often because we are fearful by nature. We are easily traumatized because we’re living in an unstable world.
But I believe we can learn to control our fears if we have the right training and information. A recent study in the Journal of Personal Disorders points out that emergency responders, such as ambulance workers and firefighters, share a lower level of fear. They all say the same thing. It’s part of the training, part of the job, something they learn.
I recall years ago standing in the yard talking with a friend of mine, who was an emergency responder. Suddenly a car went sailing over the ditch on the other side of the road and crashed to the ground. He ran over and started dealing with the situation in an urgent, but calm and professional way, while I stood there having a panic attack. He had training. He had experience. He had learned to manage the adrenaline.
So I’m certain we can all learn to manage our fears and anxieties better.
As followers of Christ, the Bible is our training manual. And nothing would help more than going through the Bible’s 74 occurrences of the phrase, “Do not be afraid.”
I don’t have time to do that here, but I can show you a small handful of them.
- The first time this phrase occurs in the Bible is when God told Abraham, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
- At the Red Sea, Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today” (Exodus 14:13).
- The Lord told Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
- David told his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
- Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
- The apostle Peter told those who were facing the prospect of persecution: “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:14).
One writer said it’s hard to count the “fear nots” in the Bible because they come in so many different forms. If you’re insecure and afraid, if you need reassurance, spend some time tracking down the fear nots in the Bible and it will change your attitude and your life. And I’m very serious about this.
If you’re battling anything from anxiety to PTSD, find a concordance. You can find one online at places like Bible Gateway. You can type in the phrase, “Do not be afraid.” Then you can create your own Bible study on a legal pad or word document. Study each occurrence of the phrase. Notice who said it and to whom it was said. Study the context and meditate on the truths there. Apply it yourself. Make some notes, and go on to the next one. If you have a Bible with cross references in the margin, look up the cross references. Type out some of the best verses and go to work memorizing them. Meditate on them. That’s exactly how I do it.
That is the spiritual therapy that comes from tapping into God’s marvelous ministry of personal reassurance.
2. Keep on Speaking. Do not Be Silent
Second, the Lord told Paul to keep on speaking; do not be silent. It seems strange that the Lord Jesus would say this to the apostle Paul, because few men have been more vocal and assertive about the Gospel than Paul. But perhaps the apostle was disheartened. That seems to be the case if you read between the lines. It took a personal visit, as it were, from Jesus to keep Paul in the game. Paul needed encouragement and reassurance.
John Piper is a powerful writer, and he was the pastor of Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis for many years. But back in 1986, after he had been at Bethlehem Church for six years, he almost quit. He wrote in his journal:
The church is looking for a vision for the future, and I do not have it…. Oh, Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me…. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.
Well, John Piper went on for many years and has had an impact on the entire globe. But on that day, he needed to hear the Lord tell him: “Keep on speaking. Do not be silent.”
Recently I’ve been reading a book by Bob Griffin, who was one of Christianity’s first missionary aviators. In other words, he was one of the first pilots to begin transporting missionaries to remote and jungle areas. Much of his work was in Ecuador, and he became friends with an Ecuadorian military official named Major Rio Frio. The major had oversight of about a third of the country, most of which was total jungle. Despite their friendship, the major had no interest in hearing the Gospel.
One day Major Frio came to Bob and said, “I’m at my wit’s end. I’ve got men starving at some of our outlying posts in the jungle. Can you fly food to them?” He had been trying to send food down the rivers on canoes, but they kept capsizing.
Bob wanted to help, but this was outside of his mission. He had come to serve missionary pilots, not members of the Ecuadorian army. But as he prayed and thought about it, it seemed like the right thing to do. So he delivered food supplies all over the jungle to different outposts for the army.
Three years passed, and Major Frio came with another request. He was being reassigned to another area, and he asked Bob to fly him to Quito. He said, “I have other ways of getting there, but I would like for you to fly me.”
During that flight, Major Frio turned to Bob and asked him one question: “I would like to know what makes you tick. You could have stayed in the United States and made a lot of money with the airlines. Why do you impoverish yourself by coming here to the jungle to help us?”
That’s when Don was able to share his testimony and the Gospel with the Ecuadorian major. He had to shout out the message over the roar of the little plane, but he had the joy of leading him to saving faith in Christ. To Don’s amazement, the Major wept as there, over the snow-capped Andes, that man came to faith in Christ.
The Bible tells us to always be ready to give an answer to those who ask us for a reason for the hope that’s within us. I’m an introvert by nature, but I always try to seek out those special moments when I can direct the conversation toward the Gospel. The Lord tells us here: Keep on speaking, do not be silent.
3. I Am With You
Third, the Lord told Paul, “I am with you.” This phrase (or one like it) is frequently coupled with an admonition not to be afraid. The two things go together.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”
When Jesus came to His frightened disciples on the Sea of Galilee, He said, “It is I. Be not afraid.”
Now, let’s think about what this meant to the apostle Paul. The Lord was telling him, “Paul, don’t be afraid. When you pass the synagogue where you’ve been rejected, I’m walking there beside you. When you go into Priscilla and Aquila’s house, I’m there with you. When you walk past the demon-filled temples and shrines to all the false gods, I am walking with you. From the time you awaken in the morning until you go to bed at night, you have my total companionship, and then I’ll watch over you all evening. I am with you, so don’t be ill at ease about anything.”
We can train ourselves in this way. John Ortberg has a book called Soul Keepers, in which he wrote:
I begin each day by challenging myself: How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence?…Can I just keep God in mind today, regardless of what I’m doing?
John called it living the “with God” life. He wrote, “When I wake up, I invite God to be with me this day. Then I try to consciously experience Him walking next to me. Not in a magnificent worship experience, but in the ordinary and mundane.”
The same is true for us. The Lord tells us, Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.
4. No One Is Going To Attack or Harm You
But that’s not all. There’s a fourth reassurance here: “No one is going to attack or harm you.” That must have been welcome news to Paul. As tough as he was, he was near the end of his physical endurance. So the Lord promised him that he would not be attacked or harmed as long as he stayed in the city of Corinth.
Now, later, in Jerusalem, Paul was attacked. The Romans rescued him from a Jewish mob, but they again stripped and flogged him. So the Lord was not promising Paul would never again encounter attacks and persecution. But He was telling him to relax, because he didn’t need to worry about anything during his time in Corinth. No one there would attack or harm him.
How the Lord did this, I don’t know. It’s almost as though an invisible shelter fell around Paul wherever he was in the city. A bubble. A buffer. But it allowed Paul to relax and it also allowed him to heal physically and psychologically.
Now, the Lord doesn’t promise that we’ll have no suffering in life. But He does promise to protect us through it.
I recently read a book titled Perfectly Wounded. The book was the story of assault force commander Mike Day, who led his team to attack an al Qaeda terrorist cell in Fallujah. Day breached the door and was met with a hail of gunfire.
Mike Day was struck by 27 bullets, then rocked by a grenade explosion that knocked him unconscious. The medical team described him as “perfectly wounded.” Despite all his wounds, no bullet or piece of shrapnel had severed a major artery or struck a vital organ. His body armor had absorbed some of the fire. And yet his body had sixteen bullet holes.
Shortly afterward, Admiral William McRaven visited Mike Day at Landstuhl and he later wrote:
When you see His handiwork up close, when you examine all the possible outcomes and determine that only one outcome is possible—but then something else happens—that’s when you know there is more to life than meets the eye.
The nurse at the Landstuhl intensive care unit was almost speechless. “I’ve seen some of the worst injuries of the war…. I have never seen anyone shot up this bad…. He’s got sixteen bullet holes in him… and he’s going to be fine.”
Admiral McRaven concluded, “I smiled and thanked her and her team for everything they had done to save my fellow SEAL. She looked at me, shook her head, and said, “We had nothing to do with it.”
Walking into the SEAL’s room, McRaven was astounded to see there was hardly any part of Day’s body without a bullet hole. Only his chest, which the Kevlar vest had shielded, was free from wounds.
Mike Day recovered and continued to equip and train operators in special forces and in law enforcement. Today he’s an advocate for wounded veterans, a motivational speaker and writer, and the founder of a non-profit organization helping those suffering traumas.
Our enthroned Savior has recruited us to serve as His soldiers in these last days. Clad in His armor, we’re never out of the fight. We’re bolstered by His overcoming power, and our victory is assured. If we’re wounded, somehow in His providence and by His grace, we are perfectly wounded. And He will perfectly heal and restore us to the fight.
The Bible says, “By His stripes we are healed.”
So our Lord protects us, and if we are wounded by life, we are perfectly wounded. The one who protects us also repairs us, heals us, rehabilitates us, rejuvenates us, restores us, revives us. The Bible says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are renewed day by day.”
5. For I Have Many People In This City
Now, the Lord had one other thing to tell Paul and to tell us, and this is the most intriguing. He said, “For I have many people in this city.”
What did He mean by that? Did the Lord mean that many people had already been converted? That there were already many Christians walking around the streets of Corinth?
It appears He is speaking with divine foreknowledge. At that very moment, the Holy Spirit was at work in many hearts, and many people would be saved. Many people would come to Christ. We could translate the sense of the verse in this way: “There are many people in this city who are going to come to Me for salvation.”
And this is very encouraging to me. Let’s make this personal to you and me. The Lord is working in many lives around us—in our towns, in our schools, in our places of work, in our families. He has many people who are going to come to him in our spheres of service.
We may not see all of the ones who will be saved, but God is working in more lives that we realize.
Once when I was in San Diego, I went hiking with a friend of mine named Jake. We went hiking and then we jumped into the Pacific Ocean. It was just a beautiful afternoon. Well, Jake and his wife had a baby, and I sent them a book I’d written for children. Later, Jake sent me an email. He said, “My son and I were reading the book you sent, and I want you to know he started asking about Jesus, and I was able to lead him in childlike simplicity to faith in Jesus Christ.”
I had no idea when Jake and I were hiking at Torrey Pines that I would have a little part to play in his son’s salvation six years later. But God had a little boy in that city.
The Lord has some people in your life, and the Bible promises that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Verse 11 says: So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the Word of God.
It’s because of God’s promise to be faithful to us that we can be faithful to Him. The Lord says to each of us: 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.
And so we’ll stay where God puts us, doing what He tells us, and He will take care of the rest.
As I said earlier, Luke doesn’t tell us many more details. He skips over the months of ministry and then he tells us about a crisis point in Corinth.
Verse 12 says: While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment.
This is a very important historical reference in the book of Acts, because we know from outside sources that Emperor Claudius appointed Gallio as proconsul of the province of Achaia between set dates in AD 51 and 52. So this is a key dating point. We know that Paul’s ministry in Corinth took place between AD 51 and 52. That helps us establish a chronology for other portions of the book of Acts and for the life of Paul.
Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus is a very well-known figure in Roman history. He was the brother of the famous Roman writer Seneca. He was born in Cordova, Spain, and he became a gifted leader. During the reign of Emperor Claudius, Gallio was appointed as the proconsul or governor of Southern Greece. He left his post apparently due to health problems, and then, like so many others, he ran afoul of the troubled young new emperor Nero, and he was forced to commit suicide in A.D.65.
On this occasion in Acts 18, Governor Gallio took his place at the judgment seat, where he heard cases of dispute.
This is the Bema, or the judgment seat. Later, Paul would remind the Corinthians Christians that one day we will all stand before the Bema or the Judgment Seat of Christ.
So here, Paul was brought up on charges from the Jews, who said: “This man is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
But remember what Jesus had promised Paul. He had told him that no one would attack or harm him in Corinth.
So verse 14 says: Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names of your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” So he drove them off. Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatsoever.
Why did the crowd turn on Sosthenes? We don’t know. The crowd was upset and so they turned on someone else and just started plummeting him. This man’s name was Sosthenes. And it’s very interesting that when you open the book of 1 Corinthians, which Paul later wrote to this church, it begins: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.”
So it seems likely that Sosthenes took Paul’s beating. At any rate, that’s about all Luke tells us about Paul’s 18 months in Corinth. He ends the account in verse 18 by saying:
Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.
The lesson I come away with is God’s marvelous ministry of reassurance.
Let me close with a personal word about three ways the Lord reassures me.
Over the years, I’ve needed a lot of reassurance. On many occasions, I felt I’d been run over by a truck. Sometimes the Lord uses others to reassure us. God always used my wife, Katrina, to give me reassurance. Often the Lord strengthens and comforts us through others.
There’s nothing better you can do for someone than to offer reassurance. I know from experience that husbands badly need reassurance from their wives, and vice versa! Pastors need reassurance from their members. Friends need to offer each other encouraging words as often as possible.
Another way God reassures us is through Christian devotional material. Once when I was going through an especially rough patch, I found a great deal of help in Amy Carmichael’s devotional book, Edges of His Ways.
And that brings up a third method of reassurance. God uses His Word. He uses verses like Acts 18:9-10. In Edges of His Ways, Amy wrote,
Have you ever noticed this? Whatever need or trouble you are in, there is always something to help you in your Bible, if only you will go on reading till you come to the word God specially has for you. I have noticed this often. Sometimes that special word is the portion you would naturally read, or in the Psalms for the day, or in Daily Light, or maybe it is somewhere else; but you must go on till you find it, for it is always somewhere. You will know it the moment you come to it, and it will rest your heart.
I underlined those words and I come back to them often. Amy is absolutely right, and I’ve proven the truthfulness of her words many times.
And finally, among the many other ways God reassures us is through the classic hymns.
One day recently I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. I was tired and low in spirits. I sat down and tried to read my Bible, but I couldn’t get a thing out of it. I just felt low of spirits, low of heart.
My hymnbook was lying on the desk, and I opened it. It opened to a song by a woman named Effie Smith Ely. The interesting thing about this woman is that she is from my area of East Tennessee. There aren’t many hymnists in the mountains of East Tennessee. This woman, who lived a hundred years ago, was married to a Methodist pastor, and they worked in the areas around Morristown and around Greeneville, Tennessee, where I began my ministry.
She was a poet, and I’ve found a copy of her book of poetry. At any rate, one of her poems became a hymn when Donald Hustad put it to music. It’s not a very well-known hymn, but I remember singing it a time or two while in college.
As I read the words that morning, I felt God’s reassurance coming into my heart in a way that must have been just a little like Paul felt on that Corinthian night.
We sigh for human love, from which
A whim or chance may sever,
And leave unsought the love of God,
Tho’ God’s love lasts forever.
We seek earth’s peace in things that pass
Like foam upon the river,
While steadfast as the stars on high,
God’s peace abides forever.
Man’s help, for which we long, gives way,
As trees in storm-winds quiver,
But mightier than all human need
God’s help remains forever.
Turn unto Thee our wav’ring hearts,
O Thou who failest never;
Give us Thy love and Thy great peace,
And be our Help forever!
May the Lord reassure you as He did to Paul in Corinth… until we meet again.