Tuesday, February 8, 2011
"Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there;
and having persuaded the multitudes,
they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing him to be dead.
However, when the disciples gathered around him,
he rose up and went into the city...
And when they had preached the gospel... and made many disciples,
they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
strengthening the souls of the disciples,
exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying,
'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'"
And doesn't it ring true when it comes out of his mouth? It is a comfort and encouragement to be exhorted to perseverance by those who have suffered themselves. He went to the very hometown of those who had stoned him to encourage the ones who lived there to continue in faith, through tribulation.
I don't know about you, but I get no comfort from the exhortations of the comfortable. From the corrections of the well-fed. When my friends from the tropics complain of rain at the beach, I do not sympathize. The trite assurances of "everything's going to be alright" from people who buy new clothes every week never mean much to me. But I listen very carefully to those whose pains I am familiar with. When I have watched them suffer, and I have seen them bleed, and they tell me there is hope, it has weight with me.