- Suffering is promised within Godly living and persecution
- Suffering through sickness has healing promises and is not to be acquiesced to.
THE REVELATION OF SUFFERING IN PAUL’S GEOGRAPHIC ITINERARY THE REVELATION OF SUFFERING IN PAUL’S MOTIVATIONAL MINDSET THE REVELATION OF SUFFERING IN PAUL’S RELATIONAL CIRCLE THE REVELATION OF SUFFERING IN PAUL’S AUTHORITY BEING CHALLENGED Why a ministry of the miraculous should, but does not necessarily presuppose holiness. Today we look at something that very few of us in the western world, by experience, know anything about. I have never suffered in the way that we are about to look at in the life of Paul. But I find that Christians of all flavours and colours in the UK when discussing “Suffering,” as well as, “Persecution,” always add the word …”yet.”
We have not suffered . . . yet. We are not persecuted …yet. But the changes in western society, especially in the UK seem to be bringing a wind of change that may turn into a tsunami of death for some. How soon? Take a guess! As I write it is total theory but theory learned from the few people that I have known who have gone through persecution and attempts on their life because of their faith, some that had assassins break into their house to kill their children and not they themselves. I lean most on the words of a man I once was close to who jokingly says he has a “PhD in Persecution.” And he has the physical scars to show for it.
There is suffering that comes just because we are alive and relating with people and the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, it ebbs and flows with the circumstances of life, accidents and/or the people in our lives. Next, there is the suffering that comes from sickness, whether it is with yourself or somebody you love. The source is utterly different in as much as sickness is something God has promised to rid us of if we come to him as healer. Sickness is something God wants to heal. But while it is present the suffering it causes is just the same as any other source of suffering. After that, there is suffering for Christ. We are talking of plain, straight forward malicious hurt or restraint with no other reason than the fact that one is aligning themselves with the person of Christ. I am talking of mental, if not physical torture. These three general headings cover everything and everybody in the world. Suffering is a pain! Pardon the pun.
Paul suffered for Christ. I mean seriously suffered. I do not mean that he missed promotion at work because of his faith. I sympathise with those who have been there and worn that Tee-shirt, but Paul entered into something so much worse. I do not mean that his neighbours refused to talk to him because he was a Christian. I empathise with those that have borne such loneliness and perhaps even social harassment, however, when I talk of Paul, I mean incredibly much more. I mean that Paul suffered as in being stoned by a mob and dragged outside a city and left for dead. I mean him being flogged for causing a riot because of the message of Christ that he carried. What I really mean is that he suffered because lots of people, many of them Christians, turned against him, and some even rented mobs to do him hurt. There were very few places where he wasn’t pursued by people intent on doing him harm, and some even vowing to kill him. Trust me when I tell you, that when a group of men take a vow together that they are never going to eat again until they have killed a man, we are talking of a person being enmeshed as victim in the deepest dynamics of persecution and impending death (Acts 23:12-15).
Paul had the entire satanic catalogue of stealing, killing and destroying thrown at him over a prolonged period of time (John 10:10a). Demonic powers were intent on stealing the results of his labours, killing him outright and destroying all that he stood for and all he had built. The Lord Jesus Himself told Ananias that He was to show Paul, “How great things he would suffer,” for His sake (Acts 9:16). And, oh how great were the things he suffered!