The next morning [after Paul's arrest and protection under Roman authority and after the Lord's assurance to Paul that he would preach in Rome] a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy. They went to the leading priests and elders and told them, "We have bound ourselves with an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. So you and the high council should ask the commander to bring Paul back to the council again. Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way."
— Acts 23:12-15 NLT
Most of us have had people angry with us. Some of us have had people hatch evil plans to hurt us or discredit us. Few of us have had a group of more than forty take a vow to see us dead! We now see how important the protection of Roman law was for Paul in this vulnerable time. This story also reminds us that God has promised to work through all situations to fulfill his mission for us and do what is in our best eternal interest.* The real question when facing trials is whether or not we will trust that God is still at work in our lives and hasn't abandoned us. In the face of discouraging circumstances, we need each other for encouragement, we need commitment for perseverance to keep believing no matter what happens, and we need the prayers of other believers for our deliverance.** That also means other believers need me and you to come alongside them to help them persevere!
Dear Father, I pray that you bless with grace those who consider me their enemy. I confess this is not a prayer that is easy for me to pray, but I pray this because the Lord Jesus has called me to do this. My deeper prayer for these people is that they come to know Jesus as Lord, and so I'm asking that my attitude be tuned to the character of Jesus to bring them salvation. At the same time, dear Father, we need your grace and each other's encouragement to persevere. Lead me to fellow believers who need to be encouraged. Use me to help as you work to deliver them from what confronts them. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.