by Mark Clements
Thursday, July 18
Tribulation as a Normal Part of Christianity
“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that
we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:21, 22.
In the early history of the church, it became evident pretty quickly that suffering would be a regular expectation of Christ-followers. As the apostle Paul made his way through the regions of modern-day Turkey, he encountered resistance in nearly every town he visited. After he would preach the gospel, God would touch the hearts of many and they would respond with faith. Once the Jewish religious leaders realized they were losing influence, they would rally their followers and threaten Paul. They ran him out of Antioch and Iconium with physical threats, until they caught up with him at Lystra. At Lystra, they stoned Paul until they thought he was dead. Paul survived, however, traveled to Derbe to preach the gospel, then returned to the very town in which he was stoned, in order to strengthen the faith of the new disciples. His message to the churches was clear, namely, that persecution was an expected reality of following Jesus, but it should not inhibit obedience to the commission to share the good news.
Paul suffered for his faith, but he did not allow persecution to stop his obedience to the Lord. In fact, he returned to the very people who had attacked him, because he knew that God had the power to protect him. He was more concerned with satisfying God’s desires than his own physical health. What a tremendous example of faith and obedience for us. Trials may be great, but God is greater.
JUST A THOUGHT: Trust the Lord in every circumstance.