Summary: No matter how equipped we may feel or how much courage we lack, it is always a helpful reminder to know that God promises to be with His people.
Everywhere Paul went he went through many trials. He faced threats against his life. For his preaching he was beaten times without number, stoned and left for dead, and imprisoned. He was followed by Judaizing teachers that would contradict him and harass him everywhere he went. He suffered hunger and thirst, many sleepless nights, and so many other things that 1 Corinthians 11 speaks about. Paul’s life was not easy as a Christian.
When Paul entered the city of Corinth, he had quite a task before him. We see in the chapters before this chapter that Paul went to many cities to preach the gospel where for the most part, the gospel was rejected. But Paul preached anyway. Paul boldly preached Christ no matter what he faced. But when Paul reaches Corinth, we see something kind of strange. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:3 that Paul was afraid. Paul said that when he was among the Corinthians, that he was with them in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. Those are 3 words I would never use when describing Paul. But why was Paul afraid? It could be because Corinth was such a godless society, it could be that all of his previous persecution just wore him out, or it could be that we just don't have the other times he was afraid recorded. But the fact is that at this point, He was afraid. He needed some encouragement.
In Acts 18:9-10, we see the Lord speak to Paul in a vision… "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." Paul received this encouragement from the Lord to continue his preaching. I would like to take note of what I believe is the greatest statement of encouragement that Paul received from the Lord. That statement is “FOR I AM WITH YOU” This statement should be a great encouragement to anyone who is a child of God.
I’d like to look at some instances in the scriptures where the Lord told his people that He would be with them or we are told that He was with His people and make some applications to ourselves as the Lord’s people. For sake of time, I will not look at them all in detail. A few of these examples all I will do is quote the scripture and give a brief explanation of the context.
When a famine came to the land, The Lord appeared to Isaac and said in Genesis 26:2-3:
"Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 "Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands
And Isaac remained in the land of Gerar where the Lord wanted him to dwell.
In Genesis 31:3, when Jacob was going to return home to face his brother Esau, the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you."
With all that happened to Joseph in his life, it may be hard to say the Lord was with him. He was sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites, and was later thrown into prison because of his being unwilling to compromise his purity. But in Genesis 39:2 we see that the Lord was with Joseph after his brothers sold him into Egypt through the Ishmaelites. He became successful in the house of Potipher. He was made the overseer of his house and was in charge of everything he owned.
When Joseph was thrown into prison because of the lies of Potipher’s wife, we see that the Lord was with Joseph then also. In Genesis 39:21 we are told that the Lord was with him and he was put in charge of the prisoners in the prison. This would later lead to Joseph’s exaltation to 2nd in command of all of Egypt, because the Lord was with Him.
We see God appear to Moses in the burning bush.
READ Exodus 3:7-10
Moses, when the Lord told him that he was going to be sent to Egypt to be a deliverer for His people, how did Moses respond? He gave the “You chose the wrong guy response?” ME? WHY ME? But God answered Moses saying in verse 12, “Certainly I will be with you.” But as we know, Moses still gives more excuses to the Lord, telling Him why he was the wrong guy for the job; doubts that the people would listen to him, doubts because he was not a great speaker, and even in 4:13 saying to the Lord to send someone else.