Suffering: A Privilege or A Punishment?

“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. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Acts 5:40-42

…they left…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer…

I read this and I can’t help but wonder, at what point did we change?

At what point did we stop viewing suffering for Christ as a privilege and instead view ourselves as victims?

Maybe the gospel isn’t spreading like wildfire because we’re not truly persecuted for our faith. Maybe it’s because we take freedom for granted and we really have no idea what suffering looks like. Maybe the church is growing so rapidly in other countries because they are forced to choose between comfort and Jesus whereas we’re groomed to believe that we can somehow have both and still be living radical lives. Maybe it’s because we don’t actually understand the gospel.

Here’s a truth that we have a hard time coming to grips with: God doesn’t owe us anything. God doesn’t have to give us our hearts’ desires. Our hearts’ desires aren’t always inline with God’s will, even if our emotions tell us they are. God doesn’t care as much about our happiness as He does our holiness.

We weren’t put on this earth to climb the ladder of economic success, drive the most expensive car on the market, own a house far bigger than what we need, vacation at the beach every summer, marry our dream spouse and raise perfect kids with a golden retriever and a white picket fence closing us into our own little world that we obsess over.

People are dying and going to hell and we’re worried about why God hasn’t answered our prayer that only affects us.

We view ourselves as victims because this idol of a life we’ve dreamed up for ourselves doesn’t look the way we want it to.

We become frustrated and angry with God when we’re the ones missing the point.

What if we started viewing suffering as an honor?
What if we looked at discomfort as an opportunity to make Jesus known?
What if we realized that unanswered dreams aren’t to punish us but to push us closer to Christ?
What if we lived like we weren’t really going to be here long, but we’ll be in heaven forever?
What would we do differently?
Would we suffer well because we know it is a privilege?

Everything we do for Christ is a privilege, even and especially suffering.

 

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