It’s likely most of us will never go to prison for our trust in Christ. But what Richard Wurmbrand says below (as quoted in Let the Nations Be Glad) about his time as a pastor in Communist Romania will still surely apply to you, because as Jesus said, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” and, “If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!”
Here’s how Wurmbrand once prepared his young students to face this:
What shall we do about these tortures? Will we be able to bear them?... And here comes the great need for the role of preparation for suffering which must start now. It is too difficult to prepare yourself for it when the Communists have put you in prison.
I remember my last Confirmation class before I left Romania. I took a group of ten to fifteen boys and girls on a Sunday morning, not to a church, but to the zoo. Before the cage of lions I told them, “Your forefathers in faith were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to do with men who would be much worse than lions. Decide here and now if you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ.” They had tears in their eyes when they said yes.
We have to make the preparation now, before we are imprisoned. In prison you lose everything. You are undressed and given a prisoner’s suit. No more nice furniture, nice carpets, or nice curtains. You do not have a wife any more and you do not have your children. You do not have your library and you never see a flower. Nothing of what makes life pleasant remains. Nobody resists who has not renounced the pleasures of life beforehand.
You may not be thrown to the lions or tortured in prison, but at some point, if you’re using what you’re learning here and speaking to others about Christ, you will face varying degrees of angry friends and family, condescension, rejection, loss of relationships and/or status, and ridicule—all resulting in pressure to turn your back on God and what He has revealed to be true.
The only kind of faith—that is, trust—in God that can survive this is the one that resonates with this parable: “[T]he kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Is life with Christ worth more to you than anything that could be taken from you, including life itself? If it is, no loss or threat can shake it. If it isn’t, your faith is vulnerable.
Evaluate yourself now, before you have to face any fire. (I’ve been told that When People Are Big and God Is Small can be helpful in working through the temptation to fear men more than God.) Cultivate your appreciation of God’s infinite value. Meditate on Him, read the Bible, “abide in Christ” and His love, ask for His strength, and depend on Him to give it when you need it. Decide now to make Him your treasure above all else.
Paul informs us, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Decide now to say with him also, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”