At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.2 Timothy 4:16-18 NIV
When Paul wrote this, we believe he was in prison in Rome, and his execution was not far off. Yet he was confident that the Lord would rescue him from every evil attack. And that God would bring him safely into his heavenly kingdom. But the rescue Paul was looking forward to is not what we would generally expect. And it is surely not what you would see in a movie where the SWAT or SEAL team battles through enemy forces to bring someone out of a hostage situation.
Paul was fully expecting to lose his life soon (2 Tim. 4:6). He did not anticipate any deliverance from the hands of the Roman authorities. But he still expressed confidence in his deliverance. That’s because the deliverance he was looking forward to was from the spiritual forces he was contending with. What happened to him physically was of little concern since it was just his temporary tent (2 Cor. 5:1). And he was confident that God would guard his real life and bring him safely into the kingdom (2 Tim. 1:12).
All too often today we do not share Paul’s perspective. We most often seek deliverance from the physical circumstances we find ourselves in. While that in itself is not wrong, all too often we fail to realize that God will keep what is really important. And that he uses the physical struggles we go through to help us to grow into maturity. If you can avoid a beating, by all means, do so (Acts 22:25). But never compromise your faith as you do. Be faithful to the one who has called you. Trust him to protect what is important. And to bring you safely into the heavenly kingdom.