We want to run away from hard times. We pray for them to stop. We do all we can to avoid them.
I am not sure that is all bad. I don’t think we need to go looking for trouble; it has a way of finding us just fine without our help.
But the apostles in today’s passage endure a sound beating and berating at the hands of the Sanhedrin and what do they do? Celebrate!
They called the apostles back in. They beat them and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they let them go. They, however, went out from the presence of the Assembly celebrating, because they had been reckoned worthy to suffer disgrace for the name. (5:40-41)
Is there anything to celebrate in suffering for Jesus? Several things, actually. We better understand our Savior, who suffered greatly in life. We are reassured of our devotion when we are willing to suffer. We can be confident that we are perceived of as a threat to the power brokers of this world if they are willing to take the time to push us down. We will no doubt develop perseverance, patience and character as a result of our suffering. We will become stronger through adversity. But the biggest point of all is in the last clause of v.41: we know we love the name and reputation of Jesus more than our own welfare and interests if we endure persecution to the point of suffering, In addition, we are reassured that God had enough confidence in our ability to faithful endure suffering that he allowed it to come our way.
It will take some time to retrain the heart to these realities, but this idea is a wonderful one!