Called to Suffer

Journal Entry // May 28, 2022

For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.

Acts 9:16 ESV

What is the source of this anger that is prevalent and deep rooted in my heart? This is a good question that needs exploration and prayer. I wonder if this passage sheds some light on the situation. I believe I have been caught in the trap of cultural Christianity. That I have come to mix the fears and anxieties of the world with my faith and belief. I have allowed my heart to grab hold of and plant deep within me a misunderstanding of what it means for God to bless his children. I have believed the lie that suffering is always an indicator of sin or the displeasure of God. That suffering in my life is solely brought about because I have disappointed my Lord. Even thought it is clear throughout the Bible that suffering is a part of following Christ, my heart grabs hold of the thought that suffering is evil.

This verse dispels that illusion and false narrative and lie of the enemy. Suffering is part of the calling for everyone who follows Christ. We are called to walk the path and pattern of Christ. What’s this life we are called to follow? Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Paul here is being called to a life of suffering for the name of Christ. In the verse right before this, God confirms that Paul is his chosen instrument to take the gospel to the Gentiles. So with this confirmation of his mission also came the outline of his suffering. Paul was being called to do great and wonderful things for the sake of the gospel and service to Christ, but it would come with suffering and adversity.

This is where I am struggling at the moment. I want God to take away the suffering and adversity. I want the Lord to give me peace and comfort in this world. What I am misunderstanding in my heart is that Jesus has given me peace and comfort through him alone in the midst of the suffering and adversity. As David reminds me in Psalm 23, Jesus has prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies. God does not remove me out of the hardship and trials to bring me blessings. He brings blessings to me during the hardship and trials. He doesn’t want me to long for peace and comfort in worldly affairs. He wants me to long for the presence of Christ in the storm.

So I battle with this in my heart. My anger at what has transpired and brought me to this suffering. My anger at myself. My anger at others. My anger ultimately with God. They are all misplaced. My anger should be with my sin. My anger should be with the enemy who deceived me. My anger should be at the havoc and destruction that sin has brought into my life and the effect it had on all those around me. My anger should cause me to hate sin and it’s pervasive influence in my life and how it affects those around me. My anger should bring me to repentance and humility.

This is where I truly need my heart to rest. My heart needs to rest in humility and repentance. What a comfort it is to know that the Creator of the universe has chosen me to be his own. He has not only saved me, be he lives within my heart. There is a personal intimate relationship with the Almighty. It is beyond understanding that the Holy One desires for me to be in relationship with him. I am humbled by this fact. I need humility still. I need to continually be humbled. I need to continually be reminded of the deeply rooted sin that so easily entangles me and trips me. Then I need to remember that my Jesus is a patient and gentle Savior. One that I can come to seventy-seven times in a day. A Savior that never tires of forgiving me. A Savior that loves me steadfast and sure. A Savior that saves me and will bring me safely home to be with him one day soon.

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