If you haven’t yet started thinking about how you’re going to deal with suffering and persecution (big or small), now is the time to do so. May God grant that the worst that will ever happen to you is that you encounter some angry comments on your Facebook page, but you may face more, and even little discouragements have a way of adding up. How will you deal with them?
I’ve been asking this question for a while now—reading books about people who have suffered, asking questions of people who face opposition, trying to understand how they continue to press on. And overall, the answer comes back to one thing: Those who know and love Jesus well, those who think He’s worth any price, persevere. I don’t think there’s anything else strong enough to keep us going—not a love for the truth, not a love for the lost, not a desire to make a difference, but only Jesus Himself.
If you want to persevere, that’s where your focus needs to be. Seek with all your might to know Jesus, trust Him, and depend on His power in your life and in the world.
Last night, in front of the White House, there was a prayer vigil for Saeed Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian pastor from Iran (now also an American citizen) who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012. This is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his daughter on her 8th birthday:
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is control? LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control.
I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times. Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the WHY is WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all of this happened?” and “WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding WHO is in control... LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD!
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives.
It’s time now to learn the lesson Pastor Saeed wants his daughter to learn, and you can start here:
- James Gray on Mastering the Bible (Yeah, I know I keep bringing this one up, but there’s a good reason for it!)
- How Our Suffering Glorifies God
- Be a Parable of God’s Grace
- If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil