In the last post, “How Much Can You Take?”, we examined Acts 9:15-16.
But the Lord said to him, “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.” (Acts 9:15-16 NKJV)
The Lord said some good things about Saul (chosen vessel, bearer of his name before kings and the nation), but he also said “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Let me be clear here. He said “suffer for My name’s sake.” There is a distinct difference in suffering due to our own devices (or the result of random, natural life circumstances) and suffering because you carry the name of Jesus.
When we suffer for the name of Jesus it means we are being persecuted for being Christians. It means we are being degraded, ridiculed, mocked, mistreated, discriminated against, beaten, abandoned, imprisoned, ostracized, fired, singled out, and devalued. Okay, that’s a bit much but you get the idea.
Generally speaking we may suffer through emotional and social losses like when friends, neighbors, and co-workers change their attitudes toward us because of our faith. Those losses may be painful in their own way. But Saul, who is later called Paul, gives us encouragement in his second letter to the church at Corinth.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4:17, 18 NKJV)
Paul was imprisoned, shipwrecked, scorged, stoned in one town and left for dead, and was ultimately beheaded by the Roman government. He says the afflictions he and the Corinthian believers faced were light compared to the eternal weight of glory. The eternal reward of a faith filled life are simply greater than any persecution we will ever face.
How can Paul’s attitude toward his sufferings encourage us today?