But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)
(P)(S)aul suffered for Jesus’ name. He writes in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea…. I have been in danger from rivers, bandits, Jews, Gentiles, and…false believers. I have gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern (worries) for all the churches.” (my parentheses for emphasis)
The Sanhedrin determined that forty lashes could kill someone, so they inflicted forty lashes minus one because they didn’t have the authority to use death as a punishment. As an older woman, possibly fifteen lashes would kill me. So, this Scripture frightened me. “Will God ask me to suffer also?”
(P)(S)aul’s case was special. God called him to be an instrument to save not only common people but kings. To save kings God needed someone well-educated, well-known, and wealthy; someone with a history of communicating with kings. God also needed someone who loved Him and would suffer for him. So, God didn’t choose someone like us. We don’t deserve agony. But Paul tortured and killed. He needed to experience the effect his acts had on his victims. And he had to suffer to write about surviving and growing from it through Jesus.
We all suffer, Christians and non-Christians, in the name of Jesus. Non-Christians may suffer more until they realize they need a savior. And Christians continue to suffer because we don’t use Jesus to save us. We continue to want to save ourselves, so we suffer from worry and poor decisions. God lets the enemy tempt us because suffering confirms we can depend on Him to lead us to victory.
Does God want us to suffer? No good father wants his child to suffer. When we depend fully on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fill every ounce of us, we’ll have His strength to complete the next mission, and we’ll suffer no more.
Dearest Father in heaven, I praise you for your continuous presence through the Holy Spirit. Show me when I leave Your path to make my own decisions and when the Holy Spirit can’t fill me because I’m in the way. When I walk through the valley of darkness, let me fear no evil because You’re with me letting my cup overflow. Let me be joyful because Your goodness and love chase me every day of my life, and I will dwell in Your house forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.