One thing you could say about Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey: it certainly wasn’t boring. As well as having much success, they also went through many trials, even to the point of Paul getting stoned and left for dead. It would have been easy to get discouraged and give up.
But not only did they not get discouraged, they returned to the places where they had been persecuted. Why return? To strengthen the believers there and to encourage them to remain true to the faith. What did they say to encourage them?
We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. (22)
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hear about the blessings of God. But Paul knew that these new converts would go through some tough times. If the people in those cities persecuted Paul, they were sure to do so to these new converts. And so Paul didn’t sugarcoat his words. They would go through hardship.
What was the good news then? They wouldn’t have to go through the hardships alone. God himself would be with them, just as he had been with Paul and Barnabas through their hardships. And so just as Paul and Barnabas had been committed to the grace of God when they had been sent out from Antioch for this journey, they now committed these new converts to the Lord, knowing that God’s grace would carry these believers through whatever hardships they might go through (41).
In the same way, no matter what trials or hardships you may go through, God will always be with you, and his grace will ultimately bring you through to the other side. The same God that was with Paul and Barnabas is with you now. So whatever you’re going through, don’t give up. And don’t get discouraged.
As the old hymn goes,
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.