Today’s Reading: Acts 4:28-29 (NIV)
28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness.
Pain can be a disabling factor in our lives, when we allow it to distract us from the ultimate goal. I will always remember the face of my labor nurse, while I was in labor with my daughter Rachel. The reason we call it labor is because birthing babies is hard, hard work. It is truly a labor of love to give life to another human being. The pain can be excruciating, even with the help of modern day medicines. When I’m in constant pain, I have trouble focusing on much of anything else. It is as if that pain completely takes over my mind, disengaging me from the rest of the world. If we let it, our pain will totally consume us. My labor nurse was relentless in reminding me of the ultimate goal. She promised that if I would simply focus on her face and breathe through the contractions, I would soon see my newborn daughter. Whenever I’m hurting, I think about the face of my labor nurse and her words of eternal wisdom over my life.
It takes hard work and perseverance to plant and harvest a crop. The sweat and tears that come with turning hard soil, fertilizing and cultivating the ground, watering and tending to each new plant, can be very rewarding when the fruit produces on the vine. If we look to the end result with hope, we can endure the pain that is produced during the process.
I’ve been thinking about the pain and suffering of the new believers in the Way. Their families endured torture and death daily. They struggled to find the courage to share the Good News with a people who do not yet believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. The goal that kept them going was His hope assuring them that they would one day see Jesus face to face. They longed to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission – to share the Gospel with all the nations, knowing they would probably die by their admission of faith. Is it all that different for Christian believers today?
Believers are suffering for their faith all over the world today. Christians are being tortured and murdered for their profession of faith, especially in regions where Christianity is banned. Yet, faith has a way of revealing itself, amid the pain and torture believers endure. Is it so different for Christians living in a post-Christian culture? Do we not experience daily pain and suffering over the lack of knowledge and belief within our own communities? Is the Father calling us to step up and endure the pain of nonconformity, ridicule and rejection while sharing Christ’s salvation message with folks who do not believe they even need a Savior? I believe we have a lot more in common with the early church that one might think.
Father, we know that your plan and purpose will prevail against all time. There is no doubt that we will face the pain of rejection and ridicule from people who do not yet know Your Son. It is possible that our faith in Christ will place us in harms way. Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that you enable your servants to speak Your Word with holy boldness. Block the spirit of fear that we hold in our hearts. Help us see you even when we feel the pain of rejection, intimidation, and judgment. We rely completely upon Your Word living in and through us to make a lasting difference in the lives of others. Help us focus on the goal, the spreading of Your Gospel to all the nations. For we know that in the end, we will run into Christ’s everlasting arms, where we will see you face to face and there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no regrets. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
© Copyright 2009, Deb Spaulding
All rights reserved
Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles.