“strengthening the souls of the disciples, . . .” Acts 14:22
Disciples get hurt. Disciples carry wounds. The wounds aren’t metaphorical, they are real. We who follow Jesus are working in wounds, working with wounds, and working through wounds. No one should work their wounds alone. The shared work in strengthening and encouraging each other can make pain productive. Handling hurts honestly, humbly, brings them into a new light.
A disciple’s wounds are common but not ordinary. These are the wounds of Christ we share for His sake. These are the marks of shame and rejection carried for the sake of the cross. So these disciples continued to establish the church, moving forward by the Spirit.
Progress and promotion are wrapped in warfare and wounds. We are not immune from the work of retaliation of kingdom opposition. It appears with culminating ferocity. Pain and progress are interlinked. On one hand, difficulty and dangers multiply and conspire to thwart and prevent the spread of the God’s kingdom. On the other hand, steadily, surely, slowly, God’s purpose is carried out.
It would seem as though the power of God should progress though a more peaceful process. Rather, it’s through difficulty and opposition that God’s purpose is best served in its fullest and largest measure. When the enemy has done his last and worst to wound us, the church still gathers to be strengthened, and the purpose of God moves with irresistible tread. Let the tired and troubled disciples never forget this truth.
Jesus prepares us to live in a post crucifixion, post resurrection world that neither knows Him nor wants to know Him. We are dealing with routines, temptations, and people. There will be seasons of endless waiting, times of indifference, maddening hypocrisies, the absurdity of conspicuous consumption, and lots of wounds. As His disciples, we live patiently, without fanfare, without recognition. The way Jesus does it, is the way of the cross and it must be continued by us.
How do you experience progress in your pain?