After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:22
Aren’t you thankful for the “encouragers” in your life? We all eventually pass through the “slough of despond” in our progress as pilgrims or sometimes just get a little weary in well-doing. At times like these, God’s encouragers are a welcome, refreshing presence.
As Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from their first missionary journey, they took the time to retrace their steps and encourage the new disciples along the route. However, the content of this “encouragement” may surprise you. You see, their goal … our goal … in encouraging “disciples” was not a litany of empty atta-boy’s, but rather a strengthened heart. Paul and Barnabas knew that the work of Christ often takes every ounce of a person’s heart and soul and both must remain strong in order to persevere.
So those early missionaries did what we must do. They spoke first of faithful endurance and then of troubles surely to come … the latter an inevitable part of the path into the Kingdom and the former a proof that we surely belong there.
Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility; for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible. – Thomas à Kempis