As Paul and Barnabas went on their way teaching people the gospel in various towns and cities, they met opposition. In fact, at times they encountered far more than mere opposition. They were met with violent animosity.
Nevertheless, they continued to share the gospel. Town to town. Person to person.
And they keep their expectations in the right place.
We live in a day and age when as a nation, and as individuals too, we are blessed with great wealth and position in our world. One of the issues with this is that our expectations can get skewed. The danger is that “the right to pursue happiness” can become “the right to always achieve happiness.”
And when something doesn’t make us happy in an environment like that, our tendency is to dispose of it as quickly as we can.
Had Paul and Barnabas bought into this line of thought, they would have abandoned their work long before this. But they had a different expectation.
They knew that living a life for the purpose of serving the One who suffered for our sins would bring suffering of its own. They realized that living a life with the intent to honor the Savior who humbled himself “even to death on a cross” would involve hardship.
So Paul and Barnabas kept teaching. They persevered — and even returned to places they had been kicked out of previously — to strengthen the believers, and to encourage the newly minted Christ-followers to stay true to their belief in Jesus.
All because they had a wise expectation of enduring hardship, instead of an unwise expectation of enjoying constant happiness!
“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said” (Acts 14:21-22, NIV).
Lord, help me to be prepared for many hardships in my life as I follow you and carry out your purpose. Through the hardships that led you through Gethsemane to the cross, grant me entrance into your eternal kingdom.
Our Bible reading for Sunday, June 21, is 1 Kings 8:22 – 9:9, Acts 14:8-28 and Proverbs 15:11-20.
Header image based on "Gethsemane" by Waiting for the Word, CC By 2.0