Tuesday, January 28, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 39: Suffering for good

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 39, January 28, 2014
Readings: Psalm 38, Genesis 35, 2 Chronicles 12, Acts 4:32-37, Acts 5, Acts 6:1-7

Who among us really enjoys suffering? Especially when the value in it cannot be seen? If we knew the reward, knew that it was secure (if I do x I will receive y) then we may dare to suffer. But what if we suffered for the unknown? And what if agreeing to suffer only meant that the suffering would increase?

Our culture disdains suffering, or even having less. We're told to get what we deserve. In fact, deserve is a pretty common misconception held in our culture. We often expect that life owes us something. A job, a good family, a good education, cool gadgets. And we are frustrated, disappointed and discouraged when we go without.

So what would cause someone to choose to go without? What would drive an individual to suffer for what was apparently nothing?


Jesus prepared His apostles to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus, with the world. He taught them for three years, and left them with the charge to continue His work in the world. But this was no easy calling. This was a call to suffer. Jesus said that if He had been killed and hated, how much more would his apostles? But they defy reason, culture and understanding:

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life." And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. (Acts 5:17-21)

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree." (Acts 5:27-30)

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them...So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:33, 39b-42.)

Peter and the other disciples knew by preaching that they would suffer. They witnessed Jesus' beating and death. And there was no reward waiting for them at the end of the whip. No exaltation, no fame, nothing great on this earth. But they volunteered to suffer, again and again for the name of Jesus.

What makes them so different from us? Were they the few whom God called to suffer for His name? Are we in America somehow the lucky winners of the Christian gene pool that we don't have to suffer? No. We are called to the same gospel mission. We are called to suffer for Christ's name. We are called to have faith that He is worthy.

I want to challenge you to have a faith that is willing to suffer. It will look different for everyone, but willingness is God's open door. The apostles served God and shared the gospel through suffering, and in doing so, presented the good news to the most powerful and influential people in all Israel. What will God do when you are willing to suffer for Him?

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