But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions…what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me (2 Timothy 3:10-11, NKJV).
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering, yet he was no whiner either. He patiently endured whatever hardships came his way as a result of his bold proclamation of faith in the risen Christ, knowing his Lord would keep him safe whatever happened.
Notice, however, that though Paul knew God would keep him safe, he didn’t expect Him to spare him from suffering. Paul understood that such things were part of the cost he must pay for serving the One whom the world rejected. Nothing much has changed in that regard, has it? Though we in many countries are free to worship God as we wish, others around the globe are not so blessed.
Jesus Himself set the example, didn’t He? Another Apostle, Thomas, wanted proof of that example. When he was told that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, he didn’t ask to see Christ’s face or to hear His voice. He said he must touch His wounds, the scars that proved His suffering on our behalf, before he would believe. Graciously, Jesus accommodated him.
Our redemption was bought at a great price, so great we can scarcely begin to fathom it. The scars on the risen Christ’s body are testimony to that redemption and the unconditional love that sealed it.
Can we, as followers of Christ, expect any less? Even if we are not openly persecuted for our faith, there is always a price to pray, a part of self that needs to die daily so our risen Lord can live within us. There’s no room on the throne for two; only Jesus has earned the right to sit there. When we are called to any sort of suffering in our walk with Him, may we endure it humbly, knowing that the scars it produces will provide evidence of Christ’s love for others to see, that they too might believe and be saved.