Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. (Acts 9:18)
The conversion experience of the Pharisee Saul will be our focal point for what I hope will offer you a great word of encouragement today. Saul was persecuting the church and was traveling on the road to Damascus to ramp up his persecution of the believers even further. But then Jesus showed up, and we read in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts that the brilliance of the Lord’s glory brought Saul to his knees and blinded him. Three days later, Jesus sent one of His disciples, Ananias, to commission Saul for the spread of the Gospel; when Ananias laid his hands on Saul, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see clearly once again.
The account of Saul’s conversion brings me to our promised encouragement of “Clear Seeing . . . Not Clear Sailing.” For the very first time, Saul could see the truth clearly. He had experienced a saving encounter with the resurrected Christ; now he had been raised from death to life and was ready to begin his new life as the apostle Paul. Paul could now see clearly who Jesus was, what Jesus came to do, and what the cost was for being His disciple.
Not long after His conversion, Paul found that his Christian brothers and sisters feared him, and the Jews who had once been his friends were seeking to kill him. Paul now understood the truth that being a follower of Christ brings the promise of clear seeing, but not clear sailing. Paul’s writings make it clear that the Gospel he preached was no “prosperity gospel.”
I have been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles. (2 Corinthians 11:23-26)
The Lord Jesus never shrank from telling His disciples about the cost of following Him. Indeed, He told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). “But take heart!” He continued. “I have overcome the world.” The more clearly we see this truth, speak this truth, and show this truth in love, the more we will be buffeted by the storm winds that blow. We must never forget that God’s promise to us is for clear seeing, not clear sailing.
What storms winds have you been facing lately? Have you been tempted to give in to discouragement or even despair? Remember these words from Paul, who lived a life marked by suffering and storms for the sake of the Gospel: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). And because He understood the promise of God so well, Paul was able to say, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12, 14).
Like the apostle Paul, the way for us to maintain through difficulty is to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, not on our circumstances, and to press on, with joy in our hearts and His praise on our lips, knowing that Jesus has promised to carry us safely to our final, glorious port of call.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!