Recently, I read a stirring account of how each disciple died—giving their life in martyrdom for Christ—on Mark Batterson’s blog evotional.com. His post made me think about my own life. The little difficulties I face pale in comparison to what the disciples experienced. Consider how my life parallels some of the disciple’s lives . . .
James (the son of Zebedee): King Herod had James “put to death with the sword,” which was likely a reference to beheading. (Acts 12:2)
Me: I lose my mind because my kids leave candy wrappers and dishes everywhere.
Andrew: He was hanged on an olive tree or crucified around 70 A.D. Tradition holds that he proclaimed as he was facing his death, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”
Me: I struggle with a chronic disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that I find myself complaining about more than using as an opportunity to empathize with those who are afflicted.
Thomas: He was thrust through with pine spears or a lance, tortured with red-hot plates, and burned alive.
Me: The only cuts I’ve experienced are the occasional paper cut or cutting board blunder. The only hot plates I’ve come close to are the sizzling dinner plates they hand you at Olive Garden. The only burns I’ve had are sunburns or burns from my curling iron. Yeah, I know, life can be rough.
Bartholomew: He was flayed (removal of all skin) by a whip after he refused to recant. Afterwards, tradition holds that he was crucified.
Me: I give in to the pressure and stress of the moment, losing my temper when easily provoked.
Judas (Thaddeus): Legend holds that he was beaten to death with sticks.
Me: Sometimes I experience the pain of people’s critical remarks or the abandonment of those I feel should stick up for me, but I’ve never had them come at me with sticks.
Matthew: He was killed by a sword, possibly beheaded sometime after 60 A.D. in Ethiopia.
Me: I get these killer headaches every once in a while that Tylenol cannot touch. So I have to wait a whole day or two before it subsides.
Matthias: He was the disciple who replaced Judas Iscariot. There are conflicting accounts about his death, but he was either stoned to death while hanging on a cross or stoned and then beheaded.
Me: I hang on to past hurts much too long which can easily turn my heart to stone.
James the lesser: He was taken to the southeast pinnacle of the temple where a crowd gathered. When he refused to recant, he was thrown from the top (over a hundred feet down). When the mob discovered that he survived the fall, they beat him to death with clubs.
Me: Sometimes I feel beaten down by the burdens and responsibilities of motherhood, the challenges of keeping a tight budget or the weight of helping to carry other’s burdens as a counselor.
Peter: He felt unworthy to die in the manner in which Jesus died, so he requested that he be crucified upside-down on an x-shaped cross.
Me: I feel unworthy of the criticisms my husband occasionally makes of me, and I usually defend myself in those instances rather than humbling myself.
John: He stared down death when he was placed in a huge basin of boiling oil, but miraculously suffered no injuries. Afterwards, he was sentenced to exile in the mines of the prison island, Patmos. Years later he was freed, dying of old age probably in his nineties.
Me: Several times in my lifetime, I’ve exiled myself to the “Island of Depression or Grief,” each time I have been rescued by God’s grace and forgiveness. But I’ve never fully opened myself up to the kinds of persecution that the disciples, apostles and other martyrs of the faith have surrendered to so willing.
I cannot speak for you, but this is a sober reminder that my life, however difficult, is really just a “cake walk.” Thinking about the sacrifices of these men, and so many more not listed here, gives me perspective on the harsh and not so harsh realities of my life. So, I say with trepidation, I want to have the kind of devotion and abandon that the disciples had to their Lord and Savior. How about you?