17From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. -Galatians 6:17, 18 (KJV)
I recall when I was in seminary I met a student who had come to the United States from somewhere in Africa. Samuel was a vibrant and outgoing believer whose goal was to receive his seminary education and then return to his native country to share the gospel with the people there. I noticed that Samuel had a series of scars running down his face, and while I never asked I wondered if those scars were part of a tribal ritual he had undergone at some point in his life. I have read of African people who have rituals for their young men which represent the passage into adulthood. He did not speak of these scars, yet he did speak of the grace of God he had found through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul the Apostle said at the close of his letter to the Galatians of how he bore upon his body the marks of Jesus Christ. For Paul these marks were the result of beatings, stoning, and the persecutions he had endured for the gospel. As Paul looked at his own body and saw the wounds he was reminded of what he had suffered in the name of the Lord. However, there is no trace of bitterness in Paul. Instead we find him rejoicing over what Christ had done in allowing him the privilege of going and proclaiming the gospel. His rejoicing came in being found worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ and for being a part of the advancement of the gospel.
Could we endure such hardship and come out rejoicing? This is the true test of faith and godly character. So often we become bitter over the trials we endure, and yet the Scriptures teach we are to rejoice in the Lord always and in all circumstances. The Lord is faithful, and when we trust in Him we are lead to deeper faith, peace, and joy. Our rejoicing in the Lord becomes an overflow of glad and thankful hearts. Had Paul surrendered to bitterness he would have quickly lost his zeal and effectiveness for the Lord.
Perhaps you believe your faith is being tested right now. As followers of Christ our faith will be tested on an ongoing basis. This is how we grow stronger in the Lord. The trials of life which test our faith will not overcome us as long as we stand firm in the Lord. As we trust Christ we rise above our problems and find peace in the midst of them. Each trial we face will then make us stronger in the Lord. We too will have wounds, yet they will serve as reminders of the grace and power of Christ working in us.
Stand firm, trust Christ, and walk forward today in faith and spiritual victory.