I’ve been reading in Acts 26, which details Paul’s incarceration & the many times he was called before kings and judges to give account of why he was under persecution. It got me to thinking about the following:
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trials of many kinds, for Paul, included:
Physical – shows up in beatings, suffering, grueling travel
Mental – being mocked, rejected, & despised by those closest to his heart
Spiritual – opposition of the devil, thorn in the flesh
Actual – standing trial, held in jail for years, even though no crime was committed
Still, all of it happened to point people to God, & to get the message of the good news out & about & throughout the Empire. Maybe it was easier for Paul to take because he knew it was coming – the first interaction he had with Christ was in Act 9 where he discovered how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus… maybe it was because he grasped the fact that living on purpose for Christ, regardless of the pain required to do so, was well worth it…
It seems like Paul could have avoided his imprisonment & at least some of the suffering, (Acts 21:10-14) but chose instead to go on with his God-given mission, enduring “trials of many kinds” because of the promised prize at the end of his race.
…I recently read “The Heavenly Man”, the story of the man who birthed the recent home church movement in China. (in the church library) Whenever he hears someone pray for persecution to stop in China, he always corrects them. He says, “don’t pray for the persecution to stop…instead pray that the persecuted Christians will have the strength to endure the suffering, for it is a great privilege to suffer for the Lord.”
Quite a different mindset when you’ve been there…
Trials suck. It’s difficult to keep a right attitude when bad things happen.