Something insane happened in this first reading and the author of Acts is acting like it’s no big deal.
Can somebody please explain to me how a man who was beaten within an inch of his life gets right back up, re-enters the city, and the next day went on to the next city making “a considerable number of disciples”? (Acts 14:19-21)
After being hauled out of the city, bleeding, bruised and probably unconscious, the disciples surrounded Saint Paul. Notice that it doesn’t say that they carried him into the city, but that he got up and entered the city. So what exactly transpired when these fellow followers surrounded Saint Paul? Did they clean his wounds and rouse him? Rush him to rise, afraid for their own lives? Or was he healed immediately and entirely through their intercession?
Now, I’m not trying to take away from what could have been a miraculous healing, but it’s something Saint Paul says after the stoning incident that makes me wonder if instead it was sheer, stubborn will that helped him to stand. He tells the disciples that he expects to have trouble in this life, that it’s necessary even. Saint Paul knew that to be a disciple meant that hardships would come and he was prepared to persevere—no matter the cost. And so, despite his wounds, he got up and went on.
Me? I’m still surprised by suffering and hardships. When trouble comes, I’m easily deflated and discouraged. I’m tempted to set up my life in such a way that fear won’t grab ahold, stay small so that criticism can’t come my way. But in this fallen world, suffering and hardships will come, no matter the precautions we take.
So rather than shrink back, hide, try and fail to avoid conflict or pain, what if we, like Saint Paul, decided that whatever may come, whatever it costs, the Gospel is worth it? What if we firmly resolved not to give up? Not to believe the lie that God isn’t close or doesn’t care just because we run into some (albeit very painful) obstacle?
I think that’s what propelled Saint Paul forward after such painful persecution—he had made up his mind that Jesus is worth all the trouble in the world. Because . . . He is. His love, this life, is worth everything. And so, we too get back up.
Are you feeling so low by the beatings life has given you? Are you feeling like you can't get back up? Ask Our Lord to pick you up, heal you, and show you His energizing love.
Beth Davis is a lover of Jesus, a recently retired youth minister, and the Director of Ministry Advancement for Blessed is She. She is passionate about teaching women how to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus and speaking hope to weary hearts. Her favorite things include being an aunt to her five fantastic niece and nephews, the Saint Name Generator, and whatever book she's currently reading. You can find out more about her here.