One of my children has worked really hard in a class this year, and it hasn’t paid off. They have learned a little, but more than anything there has been a lot of studying and not much progress. It has been quite discouraging. It normally works…study hard, and you will receive a good grade. Life isn’t always fair though. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want.
Doesn’t it seem like if we decide to live for God, life should be easy? If we try something for God, it should just work. When we take a risk for God, we should be blessed with a life that isn’t too painful. I’m not sure why we think this, but we do. I guess, we think we deserve it because of our sacrifice. But it’s a dangerous way to think. It can create bitterness in our hearts.
In Acts 13 the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary trip. There is a whole lot that happens in chapters 13 and 14. As I read these verses, I wondered what Paul and Barnabas were thinking. I would be thinking…I signed up for this? Why am I here? Is this really worth it? I thought God wanted me to do this. Shouldn’t it be a little easier than this? Paul and Barnabas experienced the Jews acting hateful and jealous. They argued against everything Paul said, and they slandered him. In chapter 13 verse 50 it says, “Then the Jewish leaders stirred up both the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town.” Then in 14:19, “Now some Jews arrived…and turned the crowds into a murderous mob. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city apparently dead.” (These weren’t the only times they were attacked either…crazy!) They took a risk for God, and it wasn’t easy. It turned out to be painful and hard.
They did see some great things happen though. Many Gentiles understood the Message. Disciples were made, and they were able to encourage many to continue in their faith. They definitely had the right to say…don’t give up. How did Paul and Barnabas keep their focus right? How did they keep going in the midst of so much going wrong? It was definitely God. I do think that maybe they were prepared for this journey to be hard. Maybe they expected the stoning…the slander…the hate. They truly gave their life not expecting an easy life in return. They gave expecting God to work, but that didn’t mean life would be easy or fair.
My prayer this week is that we will truly give our life…not expecting the easy life but God’s best for God’s plan.