But God’s Kingdom includes hardship

Acts 14:21-28 After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. … Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. … They reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.

It’s hardly a “health and wealth” message, is it. I suspect the “long time” Paul and Barnabas spent in Antioch of Syria after their first missionary journey relates to their need for healing, both physical and emotional. Besides the hardships of travel by ship and by land, they were misunderstood, slandered, run out of towns, stoned and left for dead. Paul’s strong feeling that John Mark abandoned them (BEFORE the stonings, etc.) will fracture his relationship with Barnabas. No wonder they needed time for rest and renewal before Paul set out again—with Silas this time—in chapter 16.

Reading this passage, I flashed on furloughs my parents took from their mission work in Guatemala, when I was six and eleven and eighteen. My little brother Danny could give a perfect rendition of Dad’s “furlough talk,” complete with gestures and inflections. The memory makes me laugh, because our son Dan did the same thing with Dave’s—“It’s Kairos time!” I bet he still could. (No, not a good idea to give your brother’s name to your son. But I love the name Daniel.)

Today is Dan’s birthday (son, not brother—see what I mean?). I want to honor my son for his resilience through many hardships as he grew up,. Some related to having a chronically ill sister, but our call to mission included Dave traveling constantly, using our home intensively as a “ministry center,” giving away more money than we should have at the expense of providing for Dan the kind of clothes, etc. the other kids had at his school. And much more. If I could do it all over again, I would spend less time and energy in “ministry” and more time caring for our kids.

Dan, I love you, admire profoundly the wise, generous, perceptive, kind, visionary man you are, and pray God’s rich blessing on this special next year of your life, as you and April marry and you develop Dignity Best Practices, whose time clearly is now.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAN!!

One thought on “But God’s Kingdom includes hardship

  1. Great blog, Deb! Forty years is a milestone. In the Bible it seems to be a number indicating completion, especially of a hard or difficult time. Dan, may your 41st year be similar to coming out of a cocoon and learning to spread your wings and fly in your new marriage, new career/vocation and new beginnings. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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