Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.(Acts 18:9-11)
The ministry of the Apostle Paul must have been tremendously difficult. Unlike other cities in which Paul had experienced trial, it was here in the city of Corinth that the LORD showed Himself by vision. No manifestation of the LORD is given without purpose. Paul needed this encouragement.
The implication of this verse is that Paul had two needs. First, Paul needed assurance that the LORD was with him. Every believer desires the comfort of the LORD's presence. It sustains and graces the believer. It nourishes and breeds confidence in the face of bodily harm, difficulty, and trial. Brethren, Paul needed more than just an academic sense of the LORD's presence. It is true that the LORD never leaves His people; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee(Hebrews 13:5b). However, true comfort arises from the illuminating work of the LORD's Spirit; that is, the enlightening application of the verse from the written page of Scripture unto the living Word, assured in our soul.
Secondly, Paul was afraid. Let us not be surprised at this for Paul was a man of like passions as we. He was afraid and fear was shutting down his earnest witness of Christ in the city of Corinth. Be not afraid, ... hold not thy peace was the LORD's command to the apostle. Fear is an enslaving passion which strangles speech. Fear ensnares the believer. Fears can come in various packages; fear of failure, rejection, death, loneliness, and people. Perhaps, the fear of not seeing people saved by the LORD's grace(i.e., an unfruitful ministry) was Paul's concern. This fear is conquered not by human effort but by the LORD's assuring presence.
Believer, what are your fears this day which threaten to ensnare and hinder the confession to others of the Christ you love? Draw near to Him in the pages of His Words. Pray and earnestly desire the illumination of the Spirit of Christ of those Words to your soul. The result will be an assured ministry which is fruitful unto the glory of Christ.