Working my way through Acts 9, stopped in my tracks with verse 16.
In Ananias’ vision, God tells him to go visit Saul of Tarsus. Everyone knew Saul of Tarsus. For those Christ followers, this was not a man to visit. This was not a man to cross paths with. But Jesus had just met him on the Damascus road, and that meeting changed his life and direction.
Ananias doesn’t want to go, but he obeys. The Lord tells him that this Saul is his chosen instrument to carry the name of Jesus to the nations.
In verse 16, the Lord says, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Suffering is not an option. Here for Saul, it’s not punishment for his past dealings with Christians, it’s the path that is laid before him. It is through suffering that this instrument (Paul) will reach the nations.
My mind drifted to other places…
For instance, there is a theological relationship between the sufferings of Christ and the sufferings of His followers in this fallen realm. The book of 1 Peter shows this parallel.
Jesus’ suffering: 1 Peter 1:11, 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1
His followers’ suffering follows suit: 1 Peter 1:6–7; 2:19; 3:13–17; 4:1, 12–19; 5:9–10
In fact, the New Testament sets forth that suffering is the norm, not the exception (in this life)…
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake”
1 Thess. 3:3
“that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”
2 Tim. 3:12
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
Gracious Savior — thank you for being gentle as you bring suffering into life. I look only to your mercy, your unfailing, unending, ever-present mercy!
Give strength where I have no strength. Give direction even when I can’t see. Give hope in times of doubt. Give grace upon grace so that others will see you rather than dusty weary pilgrims.