September 16, 2023
You must be asking yourself, “what kind of devotional is this?” Suffering? Not a typical topic, but this verse is one of the most impactful to me out of the many the Bible has to offer. The verse is the Lord speaking to a believer named Ananias. He is letting him know about a recent convert named Saul, a man who had been an enemy of the Gospel and had been persecuting the Church. Ananias is going to be asked to heal Saul, but the Lord assures Ananias that Saul is “a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” If the conversation ended there, we might think that God has some great things planned for Saul. If we hadn’t gotten some great detail about his missionary journeys, we may have concluded that Saul blazed a trail of glory for the Lord and died doing what he loved. Saul, who became Paul, even wrote 13 or 14 books of the New Testament and was the most influential believer of all time. But amidst great responsibility, he also experienced great suffering. In order to do the Lord’s work, Paul endured many hardships!!! In I Corinthians 11, he lists these hardships: “in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” (23b-28)
Since when have we ever read that being a believer places us on “easy street?” How does this description fit in with the prosperity gospel? Peter was informing his readers of expected suffering when he wrote, “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (I Peter 2:20b-21) My brothers and sisters, suffering is a part of life. I say this with the most respectful sincerity since some of you may have had a great tragedy or other dramatic hurt in your life. But if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus, you are safe and secure in His loving arms. The body and mind might suffer temporal affliction, but your soul is secure forever. Don’t lose hope…don’t doubt the amazing love, grace, and mercy of your God. Continue to cast your cares upon Him. Stand firm amidst suffering. I love Acts 9:16 because it reminds me that if Paul could suffer all those things for the Lord Jesus, then maybe I can as well!
‘69 / ‘76 / Egg Harbor Twp NJ
Doris Jean H
’44 / ’55 Manheim PA