Friday, January 08, 2016

Suffering is Not Exactly What We Had in Mind

This Christmas I received a gift, from my aunt and uncle, of the book extreme devotion published by “The Voice of the Martyrs”. Although this is day eight of the new year, I am going to go ahead and start this bible study a little late. But, I suppose, better late than never.

19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20. ESV.)

“Most Christians would admit that suffering is not exactly what we have in mind when we say we want to be used by God.” – The Extreme Devotion Writing Team, The Voice of the Martyrs

This bible study is different in that in addition to God’s word it also takes the reader into the lives of those who have suffered for loving Christ Jesus and sharing God’s word with others. It grips us by the hand, and heart, and leads us to other places around the world where followers of Christ are hated by various groups and individuals for their faith and introducing Christ Jesus to others.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-21. ESV.)

Have you ever suffered because of your faith, perhaps at school, at work, or at home? Today’s reading spoke of a man who was imprisoned for distributing books from a Christian publisher. Maybe you have not experienced prison, because of your faith, but rather harsh words, assault and battery, threats, etc.

I feel this is a difficult subject to study and on which to write. The portion today included imprisonment but there are others who have been beaten, tortured, crucified, shot at, executed in various ways, burned at the stake, taken from their family, etc. It is enough to leave one’s heart truly heavy and in eager anticipation for the day when there will be no more death, no more sadness, and no more suffering.

4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4. ESV.)

Oh Lord, how I cannot wait for that day!
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