Catastrophe or Success? - The Warrior's Journey®

Catastrophe or Success?

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“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. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and (Pisidian) Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” (Acts 14:19-22) 

If you or I had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on this venture through Asia Minor, what would our impression of the trip be? Fighting, persecution, stoning, and utter chaos? When we finally set our feet back on the safe soil of (Syrian) Antioch, we’d kiss the ground and vow, “I’ll never go back to those hell holes of Iconium, Derbe, and Lystra.”   

After all, Paul and Barnabas found trouble and persecution for themselves everywhere they went. The unbelieving Jews would drive them out of every town and then pursue them to the next. Their enemies only relented after they instigated the stoning of Paul and were convinced that he died. Actually, according to Paul’s own account of his stoning (2 Corinthians 12:2-5), it appears that Paul did die – but was raised back to life by God as those around him prayed (Acts 14:20). Oh, yes, this was one hellish journey. 

Yet, when Paul and Barnabas return to the Antioch church which sent them forth, they give a far different account. Paul and Barnabas report a glowing story of how God opened a door for spectacularly successful ministry to the Gentiles. Oh, sure, there were trials galore. But as Paul told the churches along the way, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). That’s the price to pay. Is Jesus asking anything of us that He did not endure Himself? Of course not. Paul and Barnabas won hundreds of souls to Jesus Christ and established many churches.   

And as we will find out in Acts 16:1-3, one of those converts was a young man named Timothy. And this Timothy – won to the Lord in that violent city of Lystra where Paul was stoned – would become Paul’s most cherished and valued traveling companion. 


  • Are you in the midst of chaos and trial? Is the world closing in on you? Are your efforts to do the right thing met with opposition and persecution? 
  • Could it be that, even in the midst of adversity, God is doing a tremendous work in and through you? Is it possible that through the heat and pressure of tribulation, God is bringing forth diamonds in your character and soul? 
  • Don’t fear tribulation. Entrust yourself to God. Though it seems like a catastrophe, God is bringing about a stunning success. 

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