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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

October 31, 2014

Worthy in God's eyes

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

When Saul was called on his way to Damascus, Jesus let him know that he would suffer in his service for the gospel: "I [Jesus] will show him [Saul] how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16).

And suffer he did! "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep" (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

How did Paul react to his plight? His reaction in Philippi is a good example. There he was falsely accused before the city magistrates:

"The magistrates tore off their [Paul and Silas] clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks" (Acts 16:22-24).

In contrast to the Jews, the Romans did not have an upper limit for beatings. Paul and Silas were probably struck more than 39 times. The "stocks" were two large pieces of wood pierced with holes at different distances, designed to restrain the feet and produce pain. So Paul and Silas were in a dark, damp dungeon, probably lying on the floor on their backs that were bloodied and bruised.

They could have complained about their situation. They could have asked why God allowed them to experience such treatment. But they didn't do that. "At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (verse 25). Probably unable to see much in the dark, they praised God. And they praised Him so loudly that the other prisoners heard them.

What was their state of mind in their situation? Perhaps the apostle James gives us some insight with his exhortation in James 5, verse 13: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms."

And God heard their prayers! "Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed" (Acts 16:26).

Suffering for Christ's sake wasn't punishment for Paul and the apostles, but rather an honor. We see that in the example of Peter and John, after the Sanhedrin ordered them beaten for having preached in the name of Jesus: "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).

We should be mindful of their example, because Jesus tells us that in the days prior to His return His disciples will experience persecution.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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