Most of the time, we see things backwards. When things go bad or hard times come we tend to have a very narrow view. It is very difficult to step back and see the bigger picture. In the book of Acts, we get to hear the story about Paul and how he spread the word about a loving, generous God to people all over the area. It is fascinating to hear about his adventures and how he faced opposition and challenges.
After he had spend many years pouring himself into key leaders, teaching them the good news about Jesus he knew he needed to go to Jerusalem. There were many people that warned him strongly not to go. They told him is was too dangerous, that he would be imprisoned, beaten and possibly killed. Any way you slice it, he would be facing extreme opposition if he went.
Agabus, a prophet, strongly warned Paul that the Jews in Jerusalem would tie him up and hand him over to non-believers. After hearing this Paul’s friends all begged him not to go. This is how he responded to the fear that gripped those around him:
“Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?” Acts 21:12-13 He also said earlier in Chapter 20:24 “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredible extravagant generosity of God.”
Paul refused to let life’s problems derail him. He understood that what happens in you is more important than what happens to you. He also understood that when you look to Jesus as your role model and draw strength from Him each day, He’ll give you all that’s needed to overcome life. Here are some more take-aways from Paul’s example:
- No one enjoys pain, but a faithful disciple wants to do God’s will above all else
- Our desire to trust God should overshadow our desire to avoid hardship and suffering.
- When we really want to do God’s will, we must accept all that comes with it – even pain.
- What we put into life is far more important than what we get out of life.
- Single-mindedness is a quality needed by anyone who wishes to do God’s work. The ability to narrow the focus to what really matters.
- The way in which we handle adversity can bring glory to God and encouragement to others or shame to God and discouragement to others.
- When we face our fears head on, God does some amazing things.
- When we take a step in obedience, God brings strength and courage for the next step.
- Fear can keep those closest to you from seeing the bigger picture and understanding why you are doing what you are doing for God.
- God is more interested in strength and stability than in speed. Growth is gradual.
What do you need to face head on instead of running from? What perspective do you have on what is happening in your life right now? Is how you are handling life bringing glory to God? What painful experience has helped shape your character and who you are today? What situation are looking at backwards?