There I was sitting in the living room, complaining to my Dad about how much work it was to prepare a presentation of Paul’s missionary journey. I made light of it and told him “Oh yeah I have to write about how Paul was persecuted over there(Acts 14:5), beaten in this place(Acts 16:16-40), chased out of this town(Acts 14:6), stoned and left for dead in this one(Acts 14:19), made fun of in that one(Acts 17:32-34) and yet misunderstood in another place (Acts 14:11-18).” Then I stopped. Why was I complaining? Paul had really gone through all that suffering for years in service to Jesus Christ and didn’t complain. He never took a vacation on the beach or enjoyed a banquet in his honor; nor did he ever get a chance to retire and collect a pension. However, he would return happily to his home to tell every one of all the great things God had done. How new churches had been planted and older ones were growing.
For those of us that enjoy freedom in America and other free countries, complaining should not happen as often as it does. We have not been beaten or jailed because we wanted to tell someone “Jesus loves you”. We have not been chased out of a town because we declared “I am a creation of God”. We have never been stoned because we announced that “Jesus is the only way”. We have been called names. We have felt isolated or ashamed at times. We have even been intimidated by Professor so and so, who thinks we’re foolish for believing in God. But none of that compares to what Jesus, Paul, and every last Apostle and countless other servants of God endured. They were either crucified, stoned to death, burnt, imprisoned for life or perhaps beheaded for their beliefs.
We should be thankful. At times being a Christian even in America can be a challenge but not truly a hardship. Can it change? Of course, history shows us that governments, cultures, society and the way people think can change. What people think is tolerable today may become intolerable in the future. For now we can spend less time complaining and more time praying for our brethren who are forced to live in countries where Christians are truly suffering the persecution that Paul had to endure.
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