It can start well …
ACTS 28:15 “The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged.”
Several years earlier Paul had written to the believers in Rome, “… since I have been longing for many years to visit you … Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea … so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.” (Romans 15)
The Forum of Appius was a market town and the Three Taverns was a lodging place approximately 49 miles outside of Rome, a resting place before entering the city which was approximately a day’s journey.
The believers of the church in Rome who Paul had written to were now receiving Paul with great honour. Their action was similar to that of a king who would be welcomed outside the city and then brought into it. Paul thanked God and was encouraged.
Things would change though. People do change.
By the time of Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome these are his words, “At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). As he stood before Nero the church under great persecution deserted him, just as they did Jesus.
Hold praise lightly because persecution and hardship can change all of that. The encourager can be silenced so we need to find a way to engage with life with all that is thrown at us without the encouragement to sustain us.