Believers Partaking of Christ’s Sufferings
In Dark Danger, the Tarnished Seraph draws Tor into places of darkness and death. Fantasy or reality? Certainly an intense fantasy story, and yet altogether too real!
The image of numerous Christians kneeling on a beach with their hands tied behind their back who moments later were beheaded is imprinted in my mind. In India a Christian’s home was burned and all the family’s belongings stolen because the father had shared his faith with a friend. The friend, who came to faith in Christ, was murdered because he had converted to Christianity. The list of those who suffer for their faith goes on and on.
The enemy of our souls lusts to make Christ pay by persecuting His followers. Yet, for the believer suffering for Christ is a privilege. Easy? No. Scary? Yes. But in the midst of suffering a believer can find consolation and eventual joy. Numerous passages speak of the suffering of those who follow Christ. For your encouragement, here are a few of them.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. II Corinthians 1:5
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Colossians 1:24
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel. II Timothy 1:8
You endured a great struggle with sufferings… Hebrews 10:32
But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. I Peter 4:13
Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. I Peter 5:8-10
Experiencing Sufferings Is Unsettling
The idea of suffering persecution is unsettling…Lord, settle me! Early in my life, from junior high on into my thirties, I had a recurring dream in which I was forced to my knees and beheaded for my faith in Christ. The external elements of the dream would change but the end would always be the same. At first the dreams were unsettling, but after a time they became strangely pleasant. Dying for Christ would not be the worst thing that could happen in life, but being a coward might be!
Strength to Face Sufferings
Ultimately, strength for facing persecution comes from a close walk with the Lord. His Spirit indwells the believer and produces fruit in the believer’s life. In Galatians 5:22-23 we read that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” We are told elsewhere that boldness (courage) and wisdom come from the Spirit. I pray the Spirit’s fruit for persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
I just had two new books become available, Dark Danger, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, and Acceptable Fruit, an anthology of short fantasy stories bringing the fruit of the Spirit to life. You can take a closer look at them in the “Book” section of my website.
We just honored the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It was noted that every five minutes a Christian is martyred for their faith in Christ, and many thousands more face harassment, beatings, rejection by family and friends, jail, and more. I pray they will know the nearness of His presence, be granted strength and courage, and have a powerful testimony for Him.
At the websites of Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, International Christian Concern, and Christian Solidarity International you can learn more about what Christians around the world are suffering because of their faith in Christ. I encourage you to pray regularly for our persecuted brothers and sisters.
What are your thoughts on persecution? Do you have any response to the Scripture verses on suffering? Your comments are welcome.