“I will show him (Saul) how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16)
Jesus may be saying to Ananias that He will show Saul how the suffering he was bringing to His followers would be nothing compared to what Saul would face now. Persecution was flipped on its head for Saul. He would know the wrath of those who hated Jesus on every missionary journey he took to testify about Him. How Jesus would “show” Saul what was to come, is a mystery. Did He give him a vision of what was ahead? Or was He simply referring to the fact that it would unfold for him over time?
We don’t like to think of Saul’s suffering, let alone our own, as we follow Jesus. We don’t like to suffer in any way. We might begin our faith journey with Jesus thinking all will be great, because God is good. Our suffering or not, has everything to do with God being good. Why? Because our lives are not our own anymore but at His service. Now, His mission overcomes everything else. That mission will bring joy and suffering. And even joy in suffering for Him. It is a gift.
Heavenly Father, what comes with following Your Son can be troubling. We wonder why the world will not like who we are or what we share. But the fact is there is this rebellion against You, and we can expect the same against those of us who follow You. Strengthen us as You did Saul, to be strong and faithful followers of Your Son.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.