The other day I was reminded of the importance to stay with a task or project and see it through even when there are setbacks. This happens to me way too often: I lose the perspective of looking at the big goal and get lost in the small things that make me frustrated.
That brings me to today’s reading. Paul suffered yet another setback when he was mobbed by the angry crowd and brought before the authorities in Thessalonica. This was certainly not the first or last time this happens to Paul as he travels throughout the Middle-East and Mediterranean regions establishing the church. But, he sticks with it. And each time, until his eventual captivity and death, the Lord disentangles him from the mess and Paul goes on his way to continue his work.
Paul had no shortage of faith and he was absolutely steadfast in his devotion to the goal: to bring as many people to the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Only death separated him from that goal.
I personally can learn so much from Paul. First, to be devoted to a goal. Second, to have faith that is strong enough to continue through set-backs. Third, to be relentless in meeting the goal, no matter what happens. However, there are some differences between me and Paul that perhaps make it more difficult for me to do these things.
For example, I have never been visited by Jesus. Throughout the Book of Acts, it was clear the Lord was virtually walking with Paul and causing things to happen, not the least of which was getting Paul out of trouble. I’m not sure if it is the din of our present day civilization or just the noise of my own life, but I often have a hard time listening or even feeling the Lord’s presence.
In his faith, Paul knew the Lord was with him. My guess is his faith was one of the things that kept him going even though he faced death almost daily. So perhaps this is the biggest lesson from Paul: to keep the faith no matter what is thrown at you.