While reading through the book of Acts in my studies today I couldn't help but stop at a verse and read over it several times. It is in the 9th chapter in Acts and the story goes like this. God speaks to Ananias and tells him to go to a certain place in Damascus where Saul of Tarsus was praying. (God had previously struck down Paul on the road to Damascus as he was going there to persecute the Christians.) Ananias reminds God about the atrocities Saul has performed against the saints and God reassures Him that Saul is now a chosen instrument of His.
So, why the curiosity you might ask? Here is what I am curious of. In verse 16 God tells Ananias that Saul will be shown "how much he must suffer for His name's sake." The story line would flow just fine without verse 16, so I am wondering why God would say that to Ananias.
After reading through many commentaries I have found a lot that inform us of what those sufferings looked like: "such as weariness, pain, and watchings, hunger, thirst, fastings, cold, and nakedness, perils on various accounts, and from different quarters, stripes, scourges, imprisonment, shipwreck, stoning, and death, of which he himself gives a detail, 2Cor 11:23." (Gill) But very few, if any realy explain why God would have expressed this to Paul.
So I dove into the scriptures for an explanation and here is what I found.
Those who share in the sufferings of Christ
are the ones who are truly blessed.
are the ones who are truly blessed.
I think Jesus makes the point incredibly clear in Luke 9 and other verses:
Luk 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."
Luk 9:23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Luk 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (nasb)
The point here is that Jesus suffered great things and if we are to follow Him we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. I believe God wasn't showing Paul what he must suffer as a form of retaliation... You persecuted me so I will now persecute you. Not at all, on the contrary. In Gods perfect love and grace he was giving Paul a glimpse of what He suffered and was showing Paul that in order to be truly blessed in the service of God one must also suffer as Christ suffered.
Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Mat 5:12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (nasb)
Mat 24:9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. (nasb)
1Pe 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1Pe 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
1Pe 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (nasb)
Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (nasb)
Time and time again we see the men of God persevering and rejoicing in their suffering with Christ. He reveals His glory to us and gives us the faith and the strength to endure anything that comes our way.