“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
–2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)
While what I am going to say can be applied to any form of suffering you may be going through, I specifically want to address the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ today. This is because the Bible tells us to remember them as though we were experiencing their plight.
Sadly, most of us here in the western world don’t have any idea as to what they are going through. Many people in other countries have faced the loss of family, jobs and property–all because of the eternal gains which the Bible promises to all who put their trust in Christ. Now please let me tell you how this subject became real in my life, and then we will explore one facet of it together.
When I became a Christian, it was popular to try and replicate the book of Acts. I would go to Bible studies in which we talked about how believers lived together and had all things in common.
Because of this biblical belief, many Christian communes sprung up. Some of them provided shelter for kids who had run away from home, and then given their lives to Christ. While all of this was wonderful, the high cost of persecution which is recorded in the book of Acts wasn’t stressed at most of these meetings. However, something happened which made me consider this subject, and planted a seed in my heart.
Of course, this was before Google and, not being able to see, I did not have access to the entire Bible. While I had a few Braille copies of Old Testament books, the New Testament was closed to me. But all that was about to change.
A wonderful husband and wife led the meetings which I attended, and they went out of their way to get me a Braille version of the entire New Testament. Since many of our persecuted brothers and sisters don’t have access to the scriptures at all, I believe God used this act to develop an interest in me concerning their situation.
I have heard the testimonies of some of these people, and aside from extreme suffering, believers who have had to take a life-and-death stand for their faith are filled with an extreme joy. It is the joy of knowing that whatever happens to them, God is in control. It is the joy of knowing that because Jesus suffered first, He has overcome the temporal suffering which we face.
Conversely, when suffering comes our way, Satan often uses our feelings to suggest that God has abandoned us. Nothing could be further from the truth, but instead of standing in faith, we often sink in the same way that Peter did when he walked on the water.
I believe that God weeps over our heartache and pain, and I would like to point out two examples of this in scripture. The first occurred when Jesus wept at His friend Lazarus’s funeral. The second happened near the end of His life, when He cried over Jerusalem.
God doesn’t take any delight in our suffering. Instead, His will is to bless us. We can see this because from the beginning, God called us to live with Him in an idyllic setting. However, we chose to walk in a different direction than the one He specified.
Today, make up your mind that you will walk in step with the Master of the universe. The Bible tells us that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. While everything that happens to you and me is by no means completely good, we all serve a mighty God who can bring good out of heartache. Focus on Him with singleness of heart, and no matter what you go through in life, the One who has overcome all will walk with you.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.