Chosen to Suffer?

Yes! It seems clear that Jesus commissioned Saul of Tarsus (Paul) to make Him known and to suffer. This two-fold ministry is outlined in Acts 9. God speaks to Ananias saying:

15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. (Acts 9:15,16)

God’s plan for Paul from the beginning was that he should carry his name and suffer greatly along the way. And, Paul completely understood this calling.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul gives this snapshot of his life.

far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27)

This is hardly a description of the life of a minister of the gospel of Christ according to popular teaching today. The common teaching is “God wants you to be happy”, “Your best days are ahead”, and even that you should expect perfect health and have financial success. What hogwash!

For a Christian, suffering is not a bad thing, it is a good thing, provided you are suffering for the cause of Christ. Paul referred to his manifold troubles as “light and momentary” and meaningless compared to the glory that awaits at Christ’s coming.

Peter advised this response to troubles for the cause of Christ.

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ( 1 Peter 12,13)

What about suffering that is not for the cause of Christ? I think we should have the same attitude knowing full well that our God who loves us is for us and in His infinite plan is working everything together for our ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)

In both suffering for Christ and all other suffering we are to be people of faith. We are to unshakingly trust the promises of God while looking for our Saviour from heaven.

Yes, some are chosen to suffer for Christ and the gospel and others are to face other suffering with faith and rejoicing so that a watching world is pointed to Jesus by whose stripes they too can be healed.


One comment on “Chosen to Suffer?

  1. There are spiritual lessons learned in suffering. That’s how we become Christ-like. Our spiritual growth doesn’t happen in times of everything going smoothly.

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