IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
"Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples." Acts 13:50-52 (The Message).
Well, now that's a strange way to react to bad treatment! Why didn't they fight back to protect their fledgling disciples? These young believers needed much more teaching before they could leave them on their own, yet they had to get out and leave them.
They didn't have much option, really, if they wanted to stay alive. Their Jewish opponents were ferocious enough to do them in if they resisted. It would seem that law and order was not very well maintained if a mob was allowed to take action against individuals without repercussions.
The attitude of the two missionaries is also astonishing. At this point in their missionary enterprise they didn't seem to turn a hair at the treatment they were receiving from their fellow Jews. Surprisingly enough it was their own people who harassed and hounded them from city to city, not the pagan Gentiles from whom one would have expected the most resistance.
Instead of being angry and upset at the treatment they had received, they simply moved on to the next city and carried on their work as though nothing had happened. Were they becoming bitter and hardened inside? Not at all! Luke specifically informs his reader that they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
There is a place in God that allows one to bypass the emotional upheavals that accompany life's reverses and remain at peace in the middle of them. Like the chicks that are safe and dry under the mother hen's wings in the storm, these two men knew where to go and what to do when adversity hit them and they found themselves in a hostile environment.
The prophet Isaiah, living in turbulent times with Assyria, a powerful enemy empire from the north bent on world domination, harassing Israel, knew the secret of perfect peace. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV).
Paul's experiences on his journey through life taught him the same great lesson. How could he write words like "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition? with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV), had he not been permitted to go through the things that shaped his confidence in God?
Wherever you are on your journey right now, what is it in your life that is giving you the opportunity to find that resting place in the eye of the storm? You can so easily miss the grace of God and throw away the opportunity to learn to trust, if you are too busy fretting and bucking at your circumstances. God intends for you, in whatever comes your way, to find His peace that covers you in a blanker of protection and confidence in the midst of it so that no storm can ever bother you again.
Like Paul and Barnabas, you can walk away from conflict, opposition, adversity and even rejection with your heart filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit because of your trust in God's unfailing love.
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