We continue to look at Saul as an example-in this case as an example of Suffering. In Acts 9:15-16, the disciple Ananias is given a word for the new Brother Saul- it includes a sobering prophecy of things that he must suffer for Jesus. We find a synopsis of this prophecy’s fulfilment in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. But God wasn’t through with Brother Saul just yet because He still had a thorn prepared just for him (2 Corinthians 12:7).
- As we are appointed to do a specific work, so we are also appointed to suffer for it. We love to hear that we are called for great things, but we also like to hide from the idea that affliction is a part of the calling. I think Saul had an advantage over some of us, however, because at least God told him he would suffer! When He showed Joseph where He would be taking him, we see no evidence in Scripture that God told him about the suffering that awaited him in the process (Genesis 37:5-11, 18-28; 39:20). And truth be told, many of us fall into Joseph’s category- God shows us the glory but never mentions the pain. Well I’m here to give you a heads up- pain is coming with your calling! And if you are already in pain, I’m here to tell you it’s normal!
In my case, going back to my marital example, my husband was never and has to date not been accepted by my birth family. There are no words to fully describe to you the kind of pain and confusion and internal warfare that I bore and still bear because of that. I struggled between choosing to go with the direction where I knew God was leading me, and wanting to please my parents and trying not to feel rejected by them. Why did that have to happen? Why couldn’t the two worlds have just seamlessly joined together? After all, my parents are Christians so why did there have to be a choice between Christian parents and God’s will? I reached the point where I thought it was either the Devil who spoke to me about a husband so that I could end up in all that mess, or, I was mad (no joke my dear reader! With tears in my eyes I write this account.) I don’t ever want anyone to feel like you’re losing your mind. It’s a horrible feeling. But that’s what I went through in the will of God. I certainly no longer feel that way now about being mad, but at the time of writing this book, I still can feel the strain of juggling relationship with birth family over here, and walking in love with someone who is still not acknowledged or honoured by them on the other side.
But let us not be too scared of going through something. If we look back or look around us, we have seen suffering in non-Christian circles. People have suffered for the sake of getting a University degree for example. Many of them weren’t even Christians doing it for God, but they suffered! In fact, the world is riddled with examples of persons who are even suffering because they have rejected Christ. So let’s not be wimps and babies when it comes on to this suffering thing. We only need to gird up our minds with the expectation that there will be a cost to being called.
I’ll also hasten to mention a revelation that God gave to Paul when he was given that thorn in his flesh: when we are weak, then are we strong for God’s grace is sufficient! ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Never try to opt out of the price that you have to pay for pleasing God. Like Paul, let us rather glory in our infirmities that the power of Christ may rest on us. Let us choose to stay afflicted because that’s where the power is!