“Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done'” (Acts 21:13-14, ESV).
In Acts 21, after Agabu’s prophecy, Paul’s companions begged that he not proceed to Jerusalem, for pain and suffering awaited him there. Paul, however, already knew that from the moment the Lord called him to ministry, he will suffer for His name’s sake (Acts 9:15-16; Philippians 3:8). Therefore, Paul was unwavering in his determination to go.
As followers of Christ, how we respond to suffering is influenced by how we cling to God’s promises and warnings in His word. Peter explained plainly, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you….” (1 Peter 4:12-19, ESV).
Isn’t it interesting how Peter exhorts Christians not to be surprised when sufferings or trials come? In fact, he commands us to rejoice! Can we rejoice when we are at our lowest? How about the persecuted Christian brethren from other parts of the globe who are suffering for Christ sake? Can they still rejoice? How about the family and loved ones of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians and others who were beheaded and executed by ISIS? Can they, too, still rejoice?
If you continue reading Peter’s exhortation, Christians are to rejoice not only because of the privilege of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, but also of looking forward to the revelation of His eternal glory. Therefore, be strong and be very courageous, knowing that victory is the Lord’s. Yes, by His grace, we can rejoice!