Thought for the Week - 14th JuneVanda
Acts 9: 15-16
“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
There is horrendous suffering in this world and as Christians we can’t escape it, it comes to us all in different ways. Paul was miraculously converted and suffered greatly for Christ’s name, but suffering for Christ is set apart from that which we see all around us. The pains of the world come to us whether we are Christians or not; suffering of the cross comes from choosing to follow Christ.
Around the world Christians are persecuted in the most harrowing of circumstance, yet they continue to stand in the name of their Lord. We are fortunate in this country not to have to endure this level of suffering, at least not today anyway.
At conversion Paul would have lost his home, friends, family, and high standing as a Pharisee which he had dedicated everything to, yet he never talks about it. These are things we would view to be awful sufferings if they came into our own lives. For Paul, in the backdrop of his calling, terrible afflictions, beatings, and imprisonment as he witnessed for the hearts of men, those former things weren’t worth noting.
Our day-to-day sufferings are often minor complaints in comparison. We become a little uncomfortable, miss out perhaps on worldly pleasures when we attend meetings, or when God asks of us for the need of another. Our struggles that we so readily brand as suffering, are often just the reactions of our unyielding will, personality, selfishness, and nature. Our feelings rise, but these are not true sufferings. God changes us from within, and as we go through sanctification there are things we need to die on, to hand over for the purpose of glorifying God and being obedient to His will. It is important that these things get dealt with, but they are not the deep dying’s of Paul we so often and rather lightly refer to in fellowship. How sad it is to live and wrestle in the shallows of our hardships, how limiting it is to us also.
Paul reached the multitudes with the gospel, more than could be counted came to know Christ, desperate souls received miracles, healings, and deliverances. He knew his calling and his purpose. In all that Paul endured, there was no self-pity, no regret, or complaint. He had given himself completely over to God and the more we give of ourselves, the lesser the enemy’s sting in our lives will be.
Each of us has been called for good and for the good of others. Let’s take our eyes off our difficulties, emerge from our self-pity, and open ourselves as vessels to plans God has. There is much to do, and many souls in need, let’s be worthy of the place we are called to be and go forward in the power of our Almighty God.