Joy in Low Places


As the summer of 2012 approached, I was firmly set on managing boats at a Young Life camp in British Columbia. In mid-March, however, those plans fell through. Then, within twenty-four hours, I had a new position as the maintenance manager at another Young Life camp in Colorado.

I remember being confused, frantic, frustrated, and most of all, unable to see what God was doing. Arriving just a few short weeks later, I entered into the greatest summer of my life. Not only did God use my gifts to help better his kingdom, he also placed me in a wonderful community of believers. Through this community, he also introduced me to my wife.

  • In your own life, when has God’s grace completely overpowered your struggles?


19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. The “those who were scattered” in verse 19 refers to Jewish disciples. What places were these disciples scattered to in order to preach the word?
  2. How, specifically, did the church in Jerusalem respond to such a great number turning to the Lord (vs. 22)?
  3. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, what did he see? How did this contrast with the persecution?
  4. The men from Cyprus and Cyrene were significant because they could preach the gospel in both Aramaic and Greek. How has God equipped you to specifically execute the spread of the gospel?


This passage is interesting because persecution, which spread believers far and wide, is only mentioned in the first verse. The remainder of the passage, however, is about the beauty of God’s grace and the gospel spreading rapidly. In writing this, Luke clearly did not want the focus to be the hardships endured due to the persecution. In the midst of death and terror, not only did the good news spread, but the church in Antioch also thrived. We can find rest in this truth: God’s name will be known in the midst of our struggles and failures.

  • Ask God to show you joy in your struggles.
  • Pray that God would open your eyes to see his grace in the midst of chaos.