Acts 20:25-38 (ESV)
And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
This is the kind of brutally frank discussion dying parents have with their heirs. “I know that none of you … will see my face again.” Furthermore, attacks are coming.
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.”
These words sound totally discouraging, but in a perverse way they’re just the opposite. No matter how bad things get, if they happen exactly as Paul said they would, then everything’s going according to plan. Knowing that is a great comfort.
The Bible is full of dire predictions. They’re actually there to encourage us.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Trials have a purpose. If Christianity was easy, it wouldn’t be precious. But the real thing is the most valuable thing in the world. Pray about these trials – be they personal, or corporate, or even national.
But let’s do something different. Typically, people pray for a trial to be removed or for it to end. Instead, let’s pray to be shown the point of the trial. Ask God to help us learn whatever it is that the trial is supposed to teach us.
Instead of focusing on minimizing the pain, focus on maximizing the benefit.
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