How were they supposed to encourage the people in the synagogue? They were struggling themselves. His personal hopes for this Sabbath day involved getting some encouragement for himself.
Barnabas sighed. He glanced at Paul who was studying the note the rulers of the synagogue had sent them. His face was passive.
Like maybe he was considering this.
Yeah, they should encourage the people, but Barnabas was feeling more drained then a dried up well after a four year drought. He didn't know if he had it in him. It had been a tough few months, and then recently John Mark had left their missionary journey unexpectedly and with very little explanation.
While Barnabas believed the struggling, overwhelmed young man would be back, it had been difficult to see him walk away for now. It had been a huge blow to all of them emotionally.
He leaned towards Paul and lowered his voice. "Paul, what are we going to do?"
Paul calmly folded the note up, and set it beside him before looking at Barnabas. "We are going to encourage the people."
"How are we supposed to do that? We need encouragement."
Paul's face looked worn and tired, but despite all there was an energy that still shown through his eyes. "And this is the best way to get it. Our ministry can't stop just because of hardships. We will be encouraged by encouraging, by sharing the message we were sent to share, by not giving up."
Based on Acts 13:13-41
"Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.'" Acts 13:13-15
Paul and Barnabas and their merry group of traveling companions were out doing God's work. They were sharing the Gospel, proclaiming Jesus as Lord, and seeing people accept Jesus as Savior. They were making a profound difference.
But then John Mark left.
They were all working hard, and one of their own left. That must have been a real blow to the rest of the team. That could have been devastating to their self esteem, not to mention their ministry. They might have felt like if John Mark could give up despite all the good they were doing, despite not facing any horrific persecution yet, then what chance did they stand to make it? They could have been really discouraged. And maybe they were.
However, when they were at that synagogue, the rulers of the synagogue asked them to share any encouragement they might have with the people. They didn't stand there stuttering and mumbling, "Life is tough, but you got to trust God." They didn't have to act like they believed that.
Because they did believe that.
They didn't lose their encouragement. They didn't give up despite feeling abandoned. They kept pressing forward. They still believed in God and His plan. They kept sharing the Gospel.
V. Joy Palmer