A short reading and prayers for today
Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated.
Acts 15:37-39 NLT
This is a painful moment, but I’m so glad that Dr Luke recorded it. I am sure that he could quite easily have airbrushed it out of the story, but he didn’t. Paul and Barnabas fell out over taking John Mark on the next missionary journey. It’s impossible for us to know exactly the reason for this, although we do know that Paul was disappointed by the way that John Mark had deserted them on the first missionary journey. Because we know that Barnabas was a great encourager, it is easy to presume that he was all for giving John Mark a second chance. But these things happened a long time ago and there may well have been other factors of which we know nothing. The fact remains that they split up.
Splits are never easy. Even when there is a speedy recovery, the pain of separation is real and lingering. I don’t want to make light of such times, but it is important to see them in a bigger perspective. This is extremely easy to say after the event, and almost impossible to see at the time. What matters is that we live with such prayerfulness, humility, grace and forgiveness that we are able to face such moments in a Christ-like way. None of this is easy. Tough times are tough for Christians like everyone else but, as we share our lives with God, we have the incredible blessing of knowing his loving presence with us in every moment. Even when we fail completely and experience the most agonising times of separation, God is right beside us, providing for us and strengthening us. We can look to the future with confidence and peace, whatever pain and brokenness we pass through.
In what way could you prepare yourself better to face tough times?
Loving God, thank you that you are with us in every moment, however challenging. Amen
Eternal One, whose thoughts and ways are not ours, you alone are God, awesome, holy, and most high. School us in the ways of faith and wisdom, that we, like Job, may learn to truly see and hear, and in humility find blessing. Amen.
God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs. Loving our neighbours as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world. Amen