The apostle Paul was an encourager. He had put Christians through the wringer by persecuting them, even to the point of death. It’s no secret that Paul considered Christians to be blasphemers and he singlehandedly wrecked the lives of many innocent people. As Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians, a man named Ananias saw a vision and the Lord told him that he would meet a man named Saul. Terrified, Ananias said that he heard all that Saul had done to the Christians. The Lord replied, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16 ESV).
A long time after Paul was converted he began his mission journeys. He was stoned and left for dead at Timothy’s home village of Lystra. But Paul got up and went on to Derbe the next day. What happened next is incredible: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21, 22).
Many people are struggling in life. Like the apostle Paul, many will suffer for the name of Jesus. But we should encourage them to remain in the faith even when our lives are a mess. Paul never gave up. He consistently taught people who God is. He suffered severely yet never gave up treating people with kindness and teaching them who God is. He was always thankful for what God provided and never lost his focus.