…and when (the council) had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)
Beaten and rejoicing. Those don’t sound like two words that complement each other. Or how about worth and shame? Again, words that I wouldn’t put in the same sentence. Yet, to these apostles this cost of discipleship was worth.
Why was it worth it? Because they were following Christ.
They followed Him and shared the gospel.
They followed Him and witnessed thousands come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The followed Him and lived in one accord with other believers.
They followed Him and wound up in prison.
They followed Him and were interrogated like criminals.
The followed Him and were threatened.
They followed Him and they were beaten.
They followed Him and suffered shame.
They followed Him and found joy.
Following Jesus and doing His will brought these apostles joy — despite all the circumstances.
Whether life was full of comfort or sorrow, pleasure or suffering — they had joy.
Why? Because they had Jesus.
Suffering as a Christian
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19)
Friends, I don’t quite understand it, but somehow joy and suffering go hand-in-hand. Yes, that’s right. Hand-in-hand. Joy and suffering. Joy and pain. Joy and struggles… and sorrow… and hurt. Joy and everything our flesh wants nothing to do with. I don’t really know how or why, but I do know our Lord — our Good Shepherd — uses all these things that we want to avoid to draw us closer to Him.
(This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)
I currently reading (again) Hinds’ Feet on High Places (affiliate link) which is an allegory by Hannah Hubbard. In it the Good Shepherd sends the character Much Afraid on a journey to high places. But along the way she must be accompanied by two helpers, Sorrow and Suffering. I can’t wrap my head around all the symbolism in the book yet, but I highly recommend this read if you are going through a difficult season in life.
This post was written while reading Quietly Through the Bible. If you are following along with the same 2-year reading plan, I’d love to hear what God is revealing to you. Please consider writing a post and joining the link up. Not a blogger? No big deal. Share your thoughts in the comments or join our Facebook group.
Only by grace,