Acts 16: 16-24
We see a familiar pattern play out again. Paul and his team have an amazing moment where Jesus truly changes the lives of those around them. An entire household of people is saved, baptized and begins following Jesus because they were willing to listen. They are doing work in the city, teaching about Jesus. They’ve started a church, it is growing. And the persecution comes.
Paul casts a spirit out of a young girl. Some weird stuff here, but ultimately the slave girls owners aren’t happy so they trump up charges against Paul and Silas and drag them into court. The crowds taunt them, the people cheer for their punishment. Paul and his new travel partner Silas are beaten. Government officials have them beaten with rods in front of everyone. Then the two are taken into the prison and chained up as common criminals.
At any point, I think it would be okay for Paul and Silas to start questioning God. Honestly, I would have by now. Wondering does every time have to end up this way? Does every joy need to be immediately met with an offsetting load of hurt? Does every city have to end up hating us? Does every new disciple have to result in two or three angry persecutors eventually becoming a crowd wanting me dead?
Paul had reason to struggle with this. And yet he did not. In Romans 8:18, he actually says the opposite. He tells the church that their current suffering is nothing compared to the glory of Christ. Everything they faced, every new trial, every new beating, every new stoning, every angry crowd and every banishing they experienced was nothing compared to what they had already been given, Christ.
What are you facing? What present thing have you fought with and struggled with God about? Today, focus instead on the glory of Christ. Focus instead on his love, and on his grace, and on his faithfulness. Then know, any present suffering is nothing compared to him.
Maybe you know the old song…
“Knowing you, Jesus. Knowing you. There is no greater thing. You’re my all, You’re the best. You’re my joy and my righteousness, and I love You Lord. “