and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. [acts 5:40-41]
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer
have you ever really rejoiced that you were counted worthy to suffer for Christ? have you ever heard a fellow believer truly rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ? if so, praise the Lord! if not, if you struggle to be thankful while you suffer, you’re in plentiful company.
two questions i’ve learned to ask when looking at a scripture are, “what does this text say about God?” and “what does this text say about us?” in this reading, i am drawn to be reminded that God is our Father, and that we are his children. where do i see that? in the apostles’ single-minded focus on him. an interesting thing about toddlers is that when they fall on their face they tend to look up to their parent to see how they should respond; it’s like they don’t know whether they should laugh it off or cry. if the parent runs up and says, “oh no, are you ok??” they’ll probably cry. but if dad looks at them, gives his full attention, and says, “that was a good one! take my hand and let’s keep going.” they’ll likely smile and get right back to their business.
where do you turn your attention when you suffer?
there’s no denying our suffering is usually a lot more serious than a toddler skinning their knee on a walk, but Jesus encourages his disciples to have child-like faith, so i think there’s something to learn here. these disciples are so focused on God and his mission, empowered by the Spirit, that they hardly even seem to notice the pain. they suffer, look up to their God—who alone can give them the power to respond like this—and rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer.
Lord, give us faith like that! teach us a single-minded devotion to you that allows us to look to you alone when we suffer! sustain us in your steadfast love, and teach us to desire you and you alone. you alone are our comfort; forgive us for seeking elsewhere for what only you provide!
~ stephen hall