Text: Acts 21:1-14
To not be dismayed in the face of suffering
For your brothers and sisters and the community in Christ we share
For those in the travel/hospitality industry
THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE. As we noted yesterday, Paul has determined that it is the Lord’s will that he go to Jerusalem, even as others in the Church declare definitively that such a trip will end in his death. This story is an example of how the Lord tests and tries us. The story of Abraham and Isaac is the most famous but not the only story of how God tests the hearts of his people.
Such testing complicates our view of suffering. In our ultra-comfortable world, we see suffering as extraneous, something only to be avoided or eliminated.
We might say suffering can be valuable if it is clearly tied to a goal we have set for ourselves. The pain and struggle that comes from renewing physical exercise, or training for some contest, or achieving some goal is acceptable. Your doctor might put you on a treadmill and make you walk, using your suffering to test your heart, your lungs, how your blood flows. But is it acceptable to suffer for the sake of God? Is Paul being reasonable? Can we, who measure all things by the value that they bring us, see that Paul will not be deterred because he loves his Lord so much?
The Christian author John Flavell, writing in the 1640’s, noted that “whether in the way of success or comfort, or of trouble and affliction,” be grateful for God’s hand upon you. Neither success nor suffering mean anything in themselves, but only as they serve God’s purposes—and God intends to lead us into his kingdom, to refashion us in the image of Christ. He finishes by writing that we should never doubt that God sees us and loves us: “neither your comforts nor your afflictions rise out of the dust, nor spring up from the ground,” but all the circumstances of life are means by which God can see how the Spirit of love is flowing through you. Let his will be done in your life, and all circumstances will work to his good ends.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks