April 15, 2015

Rejoicing in Suffering?

Acts 5:27-42

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

—  Acts 5:41

Several years ago I had the privilege of preaching in a Christian church in Cairo, Egypt, among Sudanese Christians who had left their country because of persecution. Seeing how they worshiped, you would not have guessed they had suffered for their faith. They rejoiced in their suffering.

Their response was like that of the apostles. They had been arrested, questioned, threatened, and beaten for no other reason than that they shared the good news about Jesus. In spite of the threats of religious leaders, the apostles had the courage to say that they would obey God rather than people. And when they were let go, they rejoiced "because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name" of Christ.

Those of us who live in countries where we have freedom of religion find it almost impossible to imagine how millions of persecuted Christians today not only persevere but even rejoice in their suffering. And yet it happens every day.

There are many stories and testimonies of Christians who suffer daily for the name of Jesus Christ, and continually they thank the Lord for counting them worthy to suffer for his sake.

Only the power and presence of the risen Savior makes that possible!

Lord Jesus, today we pray for all who are persecuted for your name’s sake. Give them and all of us the grace to persevere—and even to rejoice. In your name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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