This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15–16, NIV 1984).
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23–28, NIV 1984).
My Musings – In the Western world (I live in the United States), our “suffering” for His name rarely rises above an occasional inconvenience. Persecution, rarely above periodic criticism. It may not always be this way. Outside the Western world, it frequently is not. Until that day, “dear friends, do not be surprised at the [inconvenience] you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are [criticized] because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12–14, NIV 1984). One day, our inconvenience may turn into “painful trials.” Criticism to insults, or much worse.
My Advice – What are you being asked to do for His name? Do you find it inconvenient? Are you being criticized because of it? Tradition says that Paul was ultimately beheaded during Nero’s reign. That could be the “much worse” that awaits us. Will we be able to say with Paul, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to [you]?” (2 Timothy 4:6–8, ESV 2016).
Keep the faith brothers and sisters!