FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
HARDSHIPS IN THE WORK
May 5, 2015
Today’s reading: Acts 14:19-28
Yesterday the crowds looked to Paul and Barnabas as gods and wanted to worship them. Today, those same crowds “stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” (v.19). In mission work, there will be extremes of ups and downs. Do not be puffed up by the ups, and do not be discouraged by the downs. Take everything in stride. Be humbled by the ups, and become more determined with the downs.
Thus Paul, stoned almost to death, “got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” (v.20). When a territory or parish rejects you, shake the dust off your sandals and move on (but return on a more opportune time). When people, including supposed Christians themselves malign and cast you to the ground, shake the dust off your sleeves and continue with the work. Never feel sorry for yourself, but feel sorrow only for those who are not open to receive the gospel, and pray especially for those Christians who oppose God’s work.
Here is the blessed (yes, blessed) truth: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (v.22b). Did you think it would be a walk in the park? That does not lead to the cross and thus to salvation. It is suffering and pain, for the sake of the Kingdom, that purify us and make us holy, and actually encourage and strengthen us for the work. Hardships are God’s gift to His faithful and trustworthy servants.
Given this posture, you can see that nothing can ever bring us down. Beaten down, get up again. Dragged out of town, go to the next. In God’s own time, especially when we learn the lessons of humility, self-denial and embrace of the cross, then God will provide the fruit for our labors. “After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.” (v.21).
Onward with the New Evangelization!
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