But the Lord said to Ananias . . . “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Not an Easy Life
We don’t know much about Saul’s life before he took his eventful journey to Damascus. However, it seems safe to say that if Saul’s life had not changed so drastically in Damascus, his life could have been rather easy by human standards. In Jewish society, he had every advantage imaginable. Even in Roman society, he had much going for him since he was a Roman citizen.
Yet, Saul’s life after becoming a Christian was anything but easy. By his own account, Saul was whipped on five separate occasions. Three times he was beaten with rods. Wherever he went, his life was threatened. He often went without food, clothing, and shelter. Finally, he spent his last days in a Roman dungeon before being executed for his faith in Jesus. These are the kinds of things that God was talking about when he told Ananias that he would show Saul “how much he must suffer for my name.”
It may not seem fair that those who follow Jesus can expect to face difficulties in life that they wouldn’t face if they weren’t Christians. Our human logic tells us that following Jesus should make our lives easier, not harder. The reality, though, is that being a friend of Jesus means being an enemy of Satan and all his allies in this sinful world. And Satan and his allies are not known for making the lives of their enemies easy.
This, however, is no reason to become discouraged. As Jesus told his disciples on the night before he died, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, has totally defeated Satan and all his allies. This means that we who have been joined to him in baptism also have totally defeated Satan and all his allies. Saul understood this and later wrote, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Through faith in Jesus, we have the same confidence. When we trust in Jesus, we are strong, no matter how hard life may become.
Lord Jesus, when life becomes hard, help me always to rely on you for my confidence and strength. Amen.