The Promise Changes our Enemies (Saul’s Conversion)

June 3, 2018 ()

Bible Text: Acts 9 |


What is the "Gospel of Suffering?"

Jesus told Ananias in a vision regarding Saul, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." Acts 9:16

Notice that the message wasn't for Saul. It's not a great recruiting technique. "Follow me and suffer for my name!" But that's exactly what would happen to Saul. He did hear Jesus. He did follow. He did proclaim the name of Jesus to the world. And yes, he did suffer. In fact, as you read through his letters in the New Testament you quickly realize that suffering was his constant companion.

We pursue pleasure, but we are shaped by suffering.

Suffering does (at least) five things in us:

First, suffering strips pretense. We have an idealized version of ourselves until we suffer. Then suffering brings out our true self- unfiltered, unrehearsed. Some would say it shows our true colors. Which can be very disheartening, or even depressing. And many who go through suffering fall into depression.

Second, suffering teaches us that we are not in charge. It's hard to let go of control. We want to control our lives, the lives of those we love, the circumstances around us. Many go to great lengths to create as much control as possible. But in the end, we all learn that most things are out of our hands.

Third, suffering moves us towards God's sovereignty. If we don't stop at despair, we learn to trust in God's plans. We begin to understand how He is with us in the midst of our suffering. Deeper faith and trust and belief and confidence begins to grow in us.

Fourth, suffering surfaces our calling. It is through our suffering, our heartbreak, our trials and pain that God almost always reveals our calling and deepest convictions. That calling can set the course of our life and career.

Fifth, suffering keeps our focus heavenward. We do the work God calls us to do. But at the end of the day, we rest assured that this world, as it stands, is not our home. That Jesus has not returned. That Jesus IS returning. When Jesus does return he will bring the Kingdom of Heaven with him, and this world, and our lives, all that is wrong, will finally, and forever, be set to right.

Suffering in this life helps us to pray authentically the final prayer of the Bible, "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" Revelation 22:20

And so I commend to you the "Good News of Suffering."

"And I will show _____________ how much they must suffer for my name."

Pursue pleasure, of course. But embrace the work that suffering can do in you. It will show you who you really are. It will show you who's really in control. It will pull you close to God. It will clarify your calling in life. And finally, it will draw your attention, and prayers, to the life that is yet to come!

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