It seems that in the last two, three years those in my church that are involved with the Children’s program, whether Sunday school, Bible Buddies, or Bible school, and are doing their best to see it grow have been plagued with one illness after another. I’m not talking tiny colds, either. I mean major illnesses and major surgeries.
Last week, I stopped in for a quick visit before church with one of our Sunday school teachers. She has been put through the ringer with illnesses that seem to suddenly spring up. She made a comment that my mother, who has also been hit with more than her fair share of health issues lately, and I have said between ourselves many, many times.
“Cassie, have you noticed that the ones that have an interest in our Children’s program have had a time with their health recently? Me, your mom, you…”
Friend, I’ve said many, many times that my part with our Children’s program is small. Small, but it’s a rather big deal to me. I have never considered myself a driving force behind our program. I still don’t, even though she counted me as a part. But, I went to church right after visiting her and thought about what she and my momma have said many times. And what was laid on my heart made my eyes tear up.
I began to think about Acts 5. No, not the story about Ananias and Sapphira. Definitely not that story. I was thinking about the second half of that chapter.
In Acts 5, we find Peter and the apostles preaching the name of Jesus Christ. We gather there was a good sized crowd hungry for Jesus because the Bible tells us the crowd brought their sick and afflicted to the gathering place with the hope that Peter’s passing shadow would heal their loved ones.
Eventually, the high priest caught on to what was happening and decided to throw Peter and the apostles into prison. I suppose the high priest thought that would deter them from preaching the name of Christ, but the Angel of the Lord had other plans for the apostles. The Angel opened the prison and commanded Peter and the disciples to continue preaching and teaching the name of Jesus Christ.
As you can imagine, the high priest and the high court were not happy that they had managed to escape prison. The high court was very close to stoning the apostles to death, but Gamaliel, a Pharisee, became an intercessor for them. Gamaliel made the council understand that if harm came to the apostles, the people would most likely end up violent and riotous. An attempt to control the crowd would be futile because the crowd held the apostles with such high regard and would be angry about the situation. By the grace of God, the apostles were spared and were allowed to continue teaching the word of Christ.
The Bible says, And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Acts 5:41
That’s the verse that was laid upon my heart. That they rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
In the case of the Sunday school teachers and others involved with the program that have been afflicted with something lately, we could very well rephrase that verse to say, And they rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer pain for his name.
To my fellow Sunday school teachers and those working hard to see our Children’s ministry grow (and to those out in Internet land that may be going through something similar), the pain and the situations you are dealing with is simply the enemy of our souls trying to knock you from continuing the Lord’s work. The adversary attempted to keep Peter and the gang in prison and that did not work. Now, the adversary is just trying to attack us physically, and that will not work either.
But, and as hard as this is because I know it’s been a painfully rough time for all of us, like Peter and the apostles, we should rejoice. Rejoice because whatever we are doing is enough to get the attention of the enemy and warrant attacks to stop it. Rejoice because the seeds we have been and will be planting in the hearts of these children will grow nice and strong for Christ. Rejoice because we are counted worthy to suffer for Him.