I am sure that in the early days of his walk with Christ, Paul endured terrible times. And, like most of us, he probably hoped that if he just trusted the Lord enough, he would be protected from all trouble.
The first time Paul was thrown into jail, for example, he might have cried out for deliverance: “Lord, open these prison doors. Get me out of here for the sake of the gospel!” Likewise, his first shipwreck probably tested his faith severely. And his first beating might have caused him to question God’s ability to keep His word: “Lord, You promised to protect me. I don't understand why I'm enduring this horrible trial.”
But things just kept getting worse for Paul. Scripture gives little evidence that the apostle ever saw much relief from his troubles.
I believe that by his second shipwreck, Paul must have thought, “I know the Lord abides in me and so He must have a reason for this trial. He has told me that all things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purposes [see Romans 8:28]. If this is His way of bringing forth a greater manifestation of Christ's life in me, so be it. Sink or swim, my life is in His hands.”
By the third shipwreck, Paul probably said, “Look at me, all you angels in glory! Look at me, all you vile demons of hell. Look at me, all you brothers and sinners. I’m going down once again into deep, dark waters and I want you all to know that death can’t hold me! God has told me I’m not finished—and I’m not quitting. I will not question my Lord about why I am being tested this way. I just know that this death situation is going to end up in great glory to Him. So, watch how my faith will come forth as pure as gold!”
Simply put, our death situations are meant to be the end of certain personal struggles. Our Father brings us to a place where we realize we have to depend on Christ completely, or we will never get through. He wants us to say, “Jesus, unless You deliver me, it’s hopeless. I put my trust in You to do it all!”