[Paul and Barnabas] preached the gospel in [the city of Derbe] and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Joy Victorious Over Hardship
Paul and Barnabas wanted to strengthen and encourage the faith of the young disciples they had previously met. So they told them that “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
At first glance, those words don’t seem to be that encouraging. They seem to be predicting that life will be harder for them than they would like. In fact, they seem to be promising that this will be the case—that there is no other way to live as a follower of Jesus. “We must go through many hardships,” they said. Certainly, the thought of hardships is not at all encouraging.
But thinking of the kingdom of God is.
The kingdom of God is perfect beyond what we can imagine. It is perfect harmony with God and with one another. It is an existence entirely without sin and its ability to corrupt every part of our lives—one without any guilt, sadness, or pain.
And it is already yours by all that Jesus already accomplished on your behalf as your Savior.
No hardship on earth can take it away from you. “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,” Paul would write in the book of Romans, “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
Expect hardship on earth. Also, expect one day to be entirely free from it in the kingdom of God.
Gracious Savior, may your victory on my behalf over sin, death, and Satan always be my heart’s greatest treasure. Amen.