Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

Trouble is Good, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #9)

Listen to the audio version: Click Here

TEXT: Acts 14:19-22

In the seventh message in this series, we touched on the issue of church leaders not informing young Christians of the difficulty that is inherent to the Christian faith. Many new believers come into the body of Christ thinking that their life is going to be Heaven on Earth until they get to Heaven in Eternity. However, as we read Scripture, we learn that those who are committed to God will face difficulty. In fact, Peter tells us that ‘because Christ suffered for us, he left us an example, that we should follow his steps.’ In Pilgrim’s Progress, the classic Christian book that we are using as a companion guide throughout this series, we also see that the main character, Christian, came upon his first difficulty not too long after he had been relieved of his burden of sin.

Whether we believe we ought to or not, whether we believe that we deserve it or not, the fact of the matter is that we all face difficulty in life. Generally speaking, people view difficulty as something that is negative. However, I would like to share with you from the Word of God how that difficulty can be a good thing for the Christian.

The first-century believers experienced many difficulties as they preached the Gospel across the then-known world. Our passage tells us of some events that took place during Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas traveled more than 700 miles by land and 500 miles by sea to take the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles of the Roman Empire. During their travels, they faced opposition, persecution, and trouble. However, just as we saw Christian choose to continue his journey over the Hill of Difficulty, Paul and Barnabas pressed on with their missionary activity. From their example, we see three reasons why difficulty is good.

Trouble is good because it can solidify our commitment to Christ. Verse 19 of our passage states, “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”

Paul had already preached in the cities of Antioch and Iconium, and the Gospel message that he had preached made the Jews of those cities angry. Now, Paul is in the city of Lystra. He has just healed a crippled man by the power of God, and he and Barnabas have to stop the people of that town from sacrificing to them and worshiping them because they thought Paul and Barnabas were gods come down to them in human form. Using the attention that they gained from the miraculous healing of the man who was a cripple since birth and the misguided people’s attempt to treat them like they were gods, Paul and Barnabas seized the opportunity to make the saving message of Jesus Christ plain to these pagan people. However, the Jews from Antioch and Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas had previously preached, came to Lystra and turned the population there against them. The people stoned Paul, and they dragged him out of the city thinking that he was dead.

Today, we have no question about whether Paul was a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that he was because, not only was he converted from a Jesus-hating murderer, but he put his name, his livelihood, and his life on the line for Jesus Christ. He faced repeated difficulties as a missionary and evangelist attempting to spread the good news, yet he never strayed from his purpose. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul defended himself against those who questioned his status as a minister of Christ. How did he do it? He did it by recounting the difficulties that he had faced along the way.

He said, “Are they ministers of Christ? I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure…”