Acts 14:8 In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice… 19 But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
One minute the people wanted to worship Paul by offering sacrifices to him, the next minute they literally attempted to stone him to death. Crazy! Then Paul GOT UP under his own power and went back into the city! Can you imagine how the people reacted when they saw this? There are two things that come to mind for me here. First, God protected Paul from death as his work for the sake of the gospel was not yet complete. Second, God’s protection did not mean Paul didn’t suffer. He suffered mightily despite the fact he was God’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles.
This morning I’m considering when I have been asked to suffer for the sake of the gospel – not being stoned to death but perhaps other kinds of hardship. There are one or two things that come to mind for me, but not many. What about you? Have you ever suffered for the sake of Jesus? Our passage reminds me there are times when our faith will cost us something significant. The promise is not that we will avoid hardship/suffering, but that the Lord will sustain us through it. Even if it means the end of mortal life, we have the promise of resurrection from the dead and everlasting life.
Lord Jesus, this morning we pray for Christians around the world who suffer for the sake of your name. Come to their aid, O Lord, that they may bear witness to the good news. And if/when the time comes for us to suffer hardship, give us faith that endures the struggle. We pray this in your most holy name. Amen.