May 20, 2020
“After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.” – Acts 5:40-41
Ever since I can remember, as a child in the church, there always seemed to be this contradiction; is the Christian life a life of peace and joy or a life of suffering and sacrifice? I heard sermons, read Bible studies, and saw passages that seemed to speak to both truths. This frustrated me because, how can I share my faith with those around me if I don’t really know what kind of life I’m telling them about? The problem was that I thought these two things were opposites – incompatible. But that is not the case.
Acts 5:40-41 was a complete mystery to me. In this passage it somehow seemed that these two lives, the one of joy and the one of suffering, were somehow intertwined. Then one day I realized: the apostles were not joyful because they had been flogged – this would be mental illness, not great faith. They were joyful because they were counted worthy to be servants for the Gospel of Christ. They were overjoyed to know that, through sermon, miracle, or beating, they were carrying the news of Jesus into every corner of the world. You see, our joy is complete and unstoppable, not because of our earthly circumstances, but because of our heavenly circumstance. In this world we will have suffering, but take heart and have joy, because Christ’s love and plans for us are so much bigger than the sufferings, or even riches of this world. This is why we can have joy and live a life of suffering all at the same time. As long as we are living in Christ, any earthly circumstance, including suffering, can bring us joy.
Lord God, we submit our lives to You and we refuse to live our lives in slavery to our earthly circumstances. Use us as messengers of Your Kingdom and witnesses for Jesus Christ. Let all of our joy come only from this purpose.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Shane Cannon