The court was filled with a great assembly to hear Paul’s case. The Bible says King Agrippa and his wife Bernice entered the auditorium with “great pomp”–most likely with an entourage of court officials and servants. This was Paul’s big day!
But what amazes me about this story most is what Paul said first.
When permitted to speak, he stepped forward and declared, “I think myself happy, King Agrippa…” (Acts 26:2).
Really? Isn’t this the man that had already endured many hardships and had now been imprisoned for a couple of years? Before this moment, this was Paul’s testimony:
“I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
“And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
“If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I’m not lying. Remember the time I was in Damascus and the governor of King Aretas posted guards at the city gates to arrest me? I crawled through a window in the wall, was let down in a basket, and had to run for my life…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33! MSG).
You and I haven’t come close to enduring struggles such as his. Yet this man, standing in chains before the King, stretched out his hand and answered for himself, “I THINK MYSELF HAPPY, King Agrippa…”
The King and his court must have been taken aback by Paul’s use of the word happy. In the original Greek language, it meant “supremely blessed, fortunate, and well off.”
You might wonder (as I have) how Paul could declare such a thing in spite of all his trials? Had God anointed him with super-faith? Or maybe the ability to feel nothing?
No. Paul said, “I think myself happy [supremely blessed, fortunate, and well off].” The word think means to command with official authority. In other words, despite his trials and current situation, he took charge of any temptation to feel sorry for himself and commanded (and reminded) his inner man of his salvation in Christ and all that that meant–despite what things looked or felt like!
You and I can do the same.
Let me re-phrase that… You and I should do the same. We may feel like it at times, but none of us have braved what Jesus (or Paul) experienced. The Bible reminds us to look to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).
So remember, it is possible to see beyond your current trial and declare (commanding with official authority), “I think myself happy (supremely blessed, fortunate, and well off)!”