My dear sister,
As I sit in the comfort of my home with my cup of coffee in hand, thinking of you and watching the news of the world, my heart wells up in gratitude to the Lord for our safety from violent persecutions simply because we profess to be Christ-followers. Certainly there have been times in my own life when my love for Jesus has caused discomfort in those who do not love Him, even scorn and disdain, but never to the point of physical harm or the State coming to take me away. I know that in our own USA there are those whose families have ostracized them, there are small businesses which have been shut down, there are lawsuits against organizations who refuse to compromise their core beliefs. These are hurtful and serious situations, the outcome of many still unknown. Our first amendment rights seem to be in jeopardy over various issues including homosexual ‘marriages’ abortion ‘rights’, and transgender ‘rights’. At present, none of these are resulting in torture and death to those in opposition, but they certainly are an oppression of serious noteworthiness…Which brings me back to the world news…
It is with horror that we hear of our brothers and sisters and children being beheaded, crucified, set on fire, or drowned. I do not mean to minimize in any way our own trials, diseases, disappointments, and deep losses of various kinds, but in our trials perspective is always beneficial.
I think of Hebrews 11 with its list of pilgrims and sufferers and martyrs. Though they had many promises of the coming of Christ, they never saw, here on earth, the fulfillment of those promises, yet “they all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection…of whom the world was not worthy.”
I think of the apostles, all put to death except the exiled, beloved John. I think of the believers through the centuries who suffered simply because they loved the Lord Jesus and would not deny their love. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
There are Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–refusing to obey the Kings edicts, knowing death must follow, unless God… And Luther’s brave stand before the Diet of Worms. Get a copy of Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs”, read with horror and awe, and think long and hard about the test of faithfulness.
Sweet sister, when we get bogged down by the things in our own lives, let us ask God to remind us of the big old world out there filled with so much evil and imposed suffering and unimaginable abuse and persecution in the name of false gods against those who love our Lord Jesus.
Many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing sheer terror at this moment. They are despairing of life itself yet they are clinging to God, our Father. My heart cries out to Him on their behalf.
Pray with me.
O, our God, our hearts ache and cry out to You for all those in this world who are being or will be persecuted simply because they are faithful to Jesus Christ. Please prepare all of your children for a day of possible persecution by strengthening us in our trust in You, Your Word, and in Your goodness now, so that no matter what, we would remain faithful to You, by Your grace. May we all have “persecution grace” and not shrink from living boldly for Christ in every circumstance. In our own strength we would crumble. In Your strength we can do whatever You call us to do. May we have thoughts of those who have gone on before and be prepared to “leap for joy because great is our reward in heaven” (Luke 6:23) and “rejoice that we would be counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 6:41 ).
For those who are suffering now, physically, emotionally, spiritually–for dear unknown friends– please sustain, lift up, surround, give courage, take away doubts, misgivings, wavering, fear and dread and terror…Comfort, build up, remind of Your goodness, Your love, Your nearness, Your face, Your heaven. May there be rejoicing and songs of praise coming from their lips–for the joy set before them. Please remind them that their suffering brings great eternal reward. It is not in vain. Remind them that I Peter 1:6-7 tells them that their faithful response in their sufferings validates their faith in God “even though tested by fire” that it “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Remind them and us that the more we suffer for Him, the greater our capacity to glorify Him. That is a very great reward.
Lord Jesus, You who were persecuted and suffered–You who were tempted in all points as we are (yet without sin), please let your nearness be known to these precious children of Yours, keeping them faithful, not denying the Lord Who bought them, even in the face of death.
‘Thou art my protecting arm,
fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
Uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmovable,
Equip me and I shall receive no wound;
Stand by me and Satan will depart;
Anoint my lips with a song of salvation and I shall shout Thy victory.’ (From Valley of Vision)
In the midst of all pain and suffering Jesus says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” He will make everything right. He will wipe away all tears. He will take away our anxieties and terrors and our sin forever. Let us say with John, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
Look up, my friend, He IS coming again.