“Through many dangers, toils, and snares/I have already come;/’Twas grace that brought me safe thus far,/And grace will lead me home.” John Newton penned these words in his famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.” A slave trader who, after his conversion to Christianity, became a pastor, Newton was celebrating God’s gracious leading in his own life and the life of others.
“Dangers, toils, and snares” perfectly describe what Paul and Barnabas experienced during their return trip to Antioch. But they refused to let these trials stop their mission. Their message to these new disciples was: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 22). Paul and Barnabas had learned through experience. Nearly everywhere Paul preached, he faced opposition. Even some of his successes posed problems.
In Lystra, after Paul and Barnabas healed a man who had been lame since birth, the people concluded that he and Barnabas must be gods. His opponents came down from Antioch and Iconium winning over the crowd who then tried to stone Paul, leaving him for dead. But none of this discouraged Paul! Rejection and opposition did not cause him to question his message or the God who had commissioned him to deliver it.
Despite the many toils and dangers they faced, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch triumphant. It would have been easy for them to deliver a negative report. After all, they had been opposed at every turn. Instead, they gave a positive report, observing that God had “opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27). It was true. God had used the opposition Paul and Barnabas faced to direct their efforts.
>> Not all the obstacles you face are true roadblocks. Many are street signs, placed in your path by God to refine your direction. Every believer faces hardship. We can see trials and rejection as proof that we are being faithful to God’s calling and message.
Father, today’s Scripture reveals some of the reasons for opposition, rejection, and hardships in our lives. Lord, help us understand which are roadblocks and which are street signs, placed by you to give us direction.