for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."Acts 9:16(NASB)
Paul was God's chosen vessel to take the glorious gospel of salvation to the gentiles, but his ministry would not be an easy task, but one that would entail much hardship and suffering. Indeed the catalogue of problems and persecutions that Paul endures in his ministry is almost without equal, for on numerous occasions he was imprisoned; beaten, whipped and shipwrecked. He encountered dangers while travelling on land and sea. He was attacked by robbers, ill-treated by both his own countrymen, and Gentiles. He encountered many dangers in the city, perils in the wilderness, shipwrecks at sea as well as many false accusations and unjust trial.. causing Paul many cold, hungry and sleepless nights. No surprise that the Lord told Annanais: I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake.
Like Paul we too are travelling through this world from grace to glory. Like him we are are passing through a Christ-rejecting fallen world.. that is becoming increasingly antagonistic towards Christians and the glorious message they proclaim. We are passing through a hostile environment and we have a spiritual enemy in the person of a Satan, who comes as an angel of light; a slippery serpent and a roaring lion to deceives the nations, while accusing and slandering the saints of God.
He travels to and fro on the earth, seeking whom he may devour, but we are called to resist him and to stand firm in the faith, knowing that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing similar kinds of persecution and pain, as together, we journey through life, from the cross to the crown.
Jesus Himself told us that in this world His followers would go through all sorts of tribulations, trials, sufferings and persecutions, but like Paul, we are not to fear what is coming on the earth, for He has overcome the world - and given us His indwelling Spirit to lead and to guide. And He has provided us with His sufficient grace, to overcome in this evil day.
Peter also warns of the fiery trials that all believers will undergo on their Christian journey, but reminds us that our earthly afflictions will soon pass.. producing in us an eternal weight of glory, that will far surpass our expectation - for after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
We are to cling to this great encouragement by grace through faith, as we travel through this hostile, antagonistic world.. from the cross to the crown - from grace to glory - for our various trials are but for a season.
The cross of Christ procured our salvation through faith, and whatever starts with God's grace results in God's glory - and as we journey through life we are to die to self and to live for Christ. We are to depend on Him through all the difficulties and dangers of life, for the sufferings and trials of this temporal world are but for a moment.. but His glory in us is secured for eternity. It is God Who started a good work in us and it is God Who will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus, for as Paul concluded: I do not consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may know Christ and the power of His resurrected life working in me, and I pray that You would give me the grace to participate in the fellowship of His suffering, knowing that in this world I will face trials and tribulations, dangers and maybe death - for His name's sake. Thank You that the sufferings of this world are but for a moment and that by Your grace, You have promised to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish me in Christ Jesus my Saviour - to Whom be all praise and glory - AMEN.