“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” (Acts 14:19-20, NIV)
Stoned, and left for dead.
As amazing as it is that Paul survived such abuse, what is even more amazing is what he did afterward: “He got up and went back into the city.”
We can only guess at Paul’s reasons for returning to the scene of his humiliation, pain, and near-death experience. Perhaps, Paul chose to re-enter the city for the benefit of the disciples who had refused to abandon him.
How do you and I serve those who have walked the extra mile with us through difficulties, trials, disappointments, and sorrows? Do we remember that, for such people, the distance to home is one mile longer because of us?
If Paul and Barnabas had departed for Derbe from where Paul had been dragged by the mob, it would have been a shorter journey — and a lot less stressful. (And they did, indeed, leave for Derbe the following day!) However, in the moment, Paul chose to re-enter the city.
We do well — after we’ve “gotten up” — to return with those who have stood-by us with the blessings of our literal presence and our gratitude.
If God has saved you through one fire, remember that God also has the power to save you through a hundred fires more. Be courageous in the confidence of His abiding presence and power to save.
Do not shirk an opportunity — whether because of fear or personal inconvenience — to be a living, personal, present encouragement to others of God’s faithfulness. – Luther