But the Lord has said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
We are inclined to choose the easy path. When faced with a decision about the Lord’s will we let potential hardship sway our choice. But God had determined that Paul’s path would run through hardship and suffering. He is a chosen instrument of mine, declared the Lord, to carry my name… Paul would carry the name of Christ through many lands but in the process he must suffer for the sake of my name.
There are times when God calls for his children to suffer. Sometimes the suffering comes from forces we cannot avoid: a hurricane, an earthquake, the wickedness of others. But sometimes we are called to put ourselves in the path of suffering. We go to lands where Christianity is outlawed, carrying our possessions in a coffin for we know this is a one-way trip. We move into the inner city to bring light into the darkness. We visit housing projects to share the love of Christ. And we give up fame, fortune, and prestige, all for the glory of God.
In Peru there is a native Quechua pastor named Joshua Sauñe spreading the gospel among people scattered throughout the Andes mountains. He once said, “I do not always understand missionaries. They come in but leave when troubles grow. I want to ask them, ‘What, are you afraid of going to Heaven?’”
Christian, the Lord does not always call you to easy things. He will often call you to suffer for the sake of his name. But do not let such hardships stop you from obeying the Lord’s will. Live instead like those saints in Hebrews 11:16 who desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
This world is not my home and in the Lord I find my comfort and safety. Therefore I will follow him wherever he leads, even if it be through the valley of the shadow of death.