“They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.” Acts 14:19b-20a
Paul and Barnabas have come to Lystra, a town which was located in modern Turkey. This is new territory for them. There are no synagogues here, no Jewish population familiar with messianic promises waiting for a Savior. This place is raw , the like of which these missionaries certainly never saw before. They are entering pagan darkness.
The people saw Paul heal a lame man, and immediately assume Paul and Barnabas were gods. They wanted to offer sacrifice to them. But when the apostles finely figure out what’s going on, they are horrified! They rip their clothes, and run out into the crowd, crying out, “We are just men, like you, don’t sacrifice to us! We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth.” And then Jews came from Antioch and persuaded the crowds to stone Paul. What could the Jews have said to lead the crowds to stone Paul, after they had been ready to bow down and worship him a moment before?
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. That meant he looked like death warmed over. He was horribly bruised, beaten, bloody and life-less. And yet Paul gets up and goes back into the city. Who does that? That goes against every natural human instinct we have. Most people would flee the scene of our pain and never return again.
Are you feeling defeated, beaten even bruised? Are your good efforts unappreciated, overlooked and even cast aside? Do you feel your work for the Lord has been in vain? My family doesn’t appreciate me, my boss has no idea how hard I work, my children refuse to come to church with me; are you thinking “why should I even try to serve the Lord”?
Don’t give up! Don’t quit! Get back up and do it again. Every good deed and action will have an impact on the kingdom of God.
Paul sets an amazing example for all believers, of courage in the face of brutality, perseverance through overwhelming odds, and a steadfast faith that won’t be shaken even when death is a possibility.
We can get discouraged and down at times, but with the Lord on our side we can rise up and try again. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Prayer: Thank you Father for encouraging us when we are down, help us to our feet, so we can continue to fight the good fight. Amen.