“So they went in their way . . . rejoicing . . .” Acts 5:41
Suffering isn’t just for heroes of the past. We need to awaken to the reality that we live in a world similar to the one the early Christians lived in, we are engaged in the same struggle of faith and faithfulness against opposing forces. The resistance to Christianity remains dogmatically unchanged in its objective to destroy the foundations of faith.
The varieties of sufferings, miseries, setbacks, and irritations, portrayed in Acts, mirror our own struggles today. We are called to the same call of the early church – we are called to rise above ridicule, rejection, false accusation, and slanderous criticism and to embrace the demanding cost of discipleship with a faith-filled hope.
The reactions to the suffering we see in the pages of Acts are unnatural acts. Threats calculated to silence them only empower them to spread the word further. The floggings meant to cause one to cringe and cry out, instead, draw out a praise of the goodness of Jesus. What explains such unnatural acts?
Shared joy in the expansion of the kingdom caused them to see pain and insults as the price of success.
The apostles rejoiced in the honor of disgrace for the sake of the name of Jesus. Enduring dishonor meant they were counted worthy of the privilege.
Uninhibited courage was not the result of the apostles’ own mental and emotional strength. It was a gift of God given by His Spirit.
Accountability to the Lord Jesus strengthens His servants for faithful obedience that will not swerve in the face of suffering.
The work of the Spirit gave them daring gentleness that was not cocky or arrogant towards persecutors, but a striking compassion to pray for their enemies.
They never sought personal convenience. They were insistent that neither their conduct, nor message constituted a counterattack on their accusers.
Christ’s messengers responded to rejection by shaking the dust from their feet. It symbolized a day when God will separate those who have run to Him from those who have run from Him. And His kingdom continues forward.
Do these seven reactions describe your reaction to suffering?