March 19, 2013

“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing he was dead.  But when the disciples  gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.” Acts 14:19-20

Why does one person persist when others quit?

How are some able to push through pain and discomfort to continue when others beg for a break?

Why does discouragement cling like Velcro to one but never seems to find a crevasse to hide in another?

Where does the fighting grit come from when the majority shout out in surrender?

I am amazed and humbled by Paul’s example.  I have never had a day like Paul had in Lystra.  I have never been dragged from my home for what I have preached or written.  I have never had a crowd try to execute me for what I believed. That was Paul’s day.  The crowd beat Paul to an unconscious, lifeless, state with rocks.  Stones were thrown with workman strength that struck his skull, lacerated his skin, caused trauma across his body allowing blood to seep. They abused Paul until they thought that they had killed him.

By God’s grace and protection, they had not killed him.  Paul got up and went back into the City.  We are told that the next day, “he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.”  We are not told what Paul looked like.  However, we know from other passages that Paul was not spared the scars of his mistreatment.  I think that Paul was a bloodied and bruised mess that day when he left Lystra with Barnabas.  I imagine that he was sore and tender.  He probably was suffering from the effects of a concussion and had a horrible headache.  He may have had some broken or cracked bones.  He probably was nauseous and weak but he got up from his bed and walked on.

He had no Advil or Tylenol.  He certainly had no Vicodin.  Yet, he continued.  He walked about 65 miles from Lystra to Derbe that next day.  When they got to Derbe, they preached the same gospel that got him nearly executed in Lystra and made many disciples.   Paul continued when most would have at least taken a break for the season.  I am amazed at the determination of Paul.

I am equally humbled by Paul’s example because most of us are detoured by much smaller degrees of discomfort.  A poor night sleep can put me off my game.  A hang-nail can preoccupy my senses.  Indigestion can be my excuse to stay home.

An unkind word can dissuade me.  An angry look can induce me to start brushing the dust off my shoes.  A lack of appreciation can make me give up.

I wonder what Paul would think of our perseverance in the face of discomfort and tribulations?

I think that Paul might preach to us the same message that he preached to the believers in Lystra.  They had returned from Derbe to the believers in Lystra and encouraged them by saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.  The believers in Lystra would have known what had happened to Paul.  Many may have seen him stoned and left for dead.

Paul’s message to them was that tribulations, like the one he experienced, are part of following Christ.  I believe that Paul’s example was borne from a mind-set that understood that everything he was experiencing was part of being a Christian.

We get ourselves in trouble when we begin to think that the Christian walk is supposed to ensure that we will not experience troubles.  The Christian walk draws in troubles and tribulations.

When we understand that tribulations and following Christ go together, then we should not be shocked into giving up when bad things happen.

Our ability to mentally handle suffering is tied very closely to our expectations.  The Spirit has never failed in provide the strength to a child of God to endure any tribulation; even tribulations that lead to death.  We are the ones who tap-out.

Paul @ Bundoran

Paul @ Bundoran (Photo credit: bettlebrox)

Our expectations must not be set in this world.  Paul did not have his expectations set upon the people of Lystra.  He was looking forward to the glory of God.  He was able to suffer a stoning because it was worth it in comparison to the glory of God.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  Romans 8:18

I get myself into trouble when I overvalue what is happening in this present time and undervalue the future glory that is to be revealed.  I stumble when my expectations are placed in the present and not in future revelation of God’s glory.  It is easy to give up when discomfort seems more important to me than the Kingdom of God.

Our hope is not in this world.  Our expectations of this life can never surpass what God has waiting for us.  That makes all of the tribulations that come with following Christ so very worth it.

PRAYER: Lord, the bright and shiny things of this world’s are nothing in comparison to the glorious radiance of your Son.  Yet, my tendency is to act like they are equivalent.  Father, I pray, as Jonathan Edwards before me, for you to write eternity on my eyeballs.  My expectations are nothing less the to experience the full revealing of your glory by your grace and mercy.  I long for that day.  There is nothing that I will trade.   Lord, help me to leave all of my expectations with you; right where they belong.  Amen


  1. Just as I spent hours lamenting over trivial instances in life, God lets me have my say. Then he pulls me close to remind me to set my thoughts and desires heavenward. This post was God speaking to me.

  2. […] "WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?" – Mar. 19. […]

  3. Amen!

  4. Praise God! What a wonderful post!

  5. Excellent post…

  6. Music to my ears…”do not be surprised when various trials come upon you.”

    From the very beginning God showed me that this part of life with Him was very necessary and normal, so I have been able to embrace it when others have struggled around me. He said to me “Sharon, if you don’t accept this part of me, you’ll never know all of me.” I wanted to now ALL of Him!
    Have my trials been comfortable?..no. Have I suffered?…yes. But, He has been my Rock in the very middle of them. Last year in the space of 6 months, my sister died suddenly, 3 months later my mum died suddenly as well from the exact same thing. In the middle of that, my car got scrapped. I live by faith and although it’s a miraculous blessing in my life, it is a daily challenge too. To top it all off, I broke my foot! I say with much honesty, that was not easy 6 months.. The bereavements alone were the most painful emotional experiences of my life, but I also say with much joy, that He was with me through it all, I clung to Him with all I had, He never let me down and I came through it much quicker because I embraced it and didn’t fight it.
    As Christians we will encounter every trial and challenge that the world faces, with more besides because we have now stuck our heads above the parapet. Our cars will break down, our health will fail us, our houses may burn to the ground and our most loved will die…but…God! It is not that things won’t happen, it’s what happens to us in them! In our weakness, His power is made perfect.

    Thank you for shining the light on this aspect of our journey here on earth. may you be blessed through your trials WHEN they come!
    God Bless

  7. Don’t sell yourself short JD. You blog very consistently and share your inspiration with all of us and it blesses and heals. You do it when you don’t feel well, when you’re angry, when you’re sad. We’re all grateful. Thank you.

  8. God be praised bro. Thank you for this excellent reminder of keep on keeping on.

  9. Those suffering not only physical pain have much to show us as do those who have suffered their “Dark Night of the Soul” like St. Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross. They have much to show us about suffering as well. Suffering is spoken of little in the Church today…..thank you!

  10. Nothing Like Hitting between the Eyes to make someone stop. Thank you. I needed this.

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