Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rejoicing in suffering.

I have been thinking about rejoicing in suffering the past few days, ever since Kley and I read this in our devotional a few days ago from Acts 5:

(Before these verses happened, the apostles were put in jail for spreading the name of Jesus, and then the high priest wanted to kill them, but after a conversation with the other members of the Sanhedrin, he decided not to.)

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Did you read all of that? They were FLOGGED, yet they walked away REJOICING because they were worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. That's unbelievable. I want a deeper faith. There is no way I would be rejoicing immediately after being flogged.

If you don't know what flogging is, it is when you are repeatedly whipped in the back, using a rod or a whip, sometimes even with sharp objects sticking out of it, specially designed to rip skin and inflict even more pain. Ouch doesn't even begin to describe.

How many times have I complained about something so insignificant that's just a temporary minor annoyance, like a cold or a headache? Even something as tiny as a hangnail or paper cut? It's embarrassing and shameful to think about. 

The apostles were willing to continue to preach His name, knowing full well that they would be imprisoned and beaten. How many times have I not said something that God was placing on my heart to say simply for fear of embarrassment? No one is waiting around the bend to flog me. I want their trust, courage, and bravery.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11 that five times he was beaten with 39 lashes, three times was beaten with rods, once was pelted with stones, three times was shipwrecked, spent a night and day in open sea, and many other things, such as being hungry, cold, naked, and without a home.

That definitely puts my suffering in perspective. God, I want to have a content heart, to praise You for the many blessings You give me, to trust You in whatever circumstances You place me in. You will work all things for the good. Even if not on this earth, Heaven will be amazing. 

Romans 5 says this about suffering:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I don't have a great and profound answer for how to actually rejoice in suffering, but I pray that God would mold me to be more like the apostles, who rejoiced after being flogged. Thank You, Jesus, that we can glory in our sufferings because You died and rose for us, and are preparing a better place for us with You in eternity.

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