“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:49–52, NIV84)
Jesus never promised that the path we Christians are on would be an easy one. What He promises is that He will be with us throughout the entire journey. There will never be a moment when He forsakes us or leaves us alone. It is this fact that must have provided the Apostles the encouragement they needed when times were tough. Listen, we have to admit that it is much easier to be a witness to our Christian faith when prison doors are opening to release us and hundreds and thousands are converting every time we speak. But what about when that isn’t happening? What about when it seems like nobody is listening, and all we seem to be experiencing is rejection and persecution? What do we do then?
Like Paul and Barnabas in our text for today, we need to keep our chin up and stay in the fight! We need to be encouraged by the fact that the Holy Spirit is with us in all the circumstances of our lives. We need to keep fighting! We are fighting an enemy that is all bark and no bite. The salvation of souls is at stake. We are like soldiers plowing through the front lines to retrieve the wounded and injured. Jesus tells us more than once that we need to consider ourselves blessed when we are persecuted and ridiculed for the sake of the Gospel. I know it’s no fun, but we have nothing to lose! We are already victors in the blood of Jesus Christ. So, for the sake of the kingdom of God, let’s stay in the fight!