I would like to inform you first of all in this final installment of the fellowship of Christs suffering that I have in no way felt competent to address the subject in any way. We have so many brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering beyond what many of us will ever experience, who have lost all that they had in this world, not only possessions but loved ones, who know a fear that we may never have to face. The subject of suffering can contain many attributes, for affliction, pain and torment know no boundaries in either the flesh or the mind, but within our spirit, that part of us that rests closest to our Lord, the suffering can be the most traumatic.
For those of you that have read certain of my other letters to you, you will recall that I have come close to death several times, and I can assure you that intense physical pain was involved in nearly all of them, but I do not look at them as suffering, at least not in the terminology that the lost do. Each time, after the frustration of not being able to make my body do what I wanted it do, I found a peace in our Savior who informed me that everything was still in His control, that whether I healed or not, whether new limitations were placed on me by my bodies inability to respond as it once had, He was in control, and that peace would be found in my soul by responding to the knowledge that His will was being done in me, even if I could not see it at the time, or even if I never did in this life.
To experience the loss of all that we hold dear to us is traumatic to say the least, and I beg your forgiveness if you are at the time of this letter to you encountering an ordeal that is beyond comprehension, one that is tearing at your very soul. It is in our Lord that we find rest at these times, the questions of why must be laid at His feet, and to His throne of mercy we must approach, especially when we feel that He is to blame for allowing the trails and tribulations of extreme suffering to come our way. But we must understand one absolute truth in these times, He did allow it, the trials of our soul are the deepest hurt that we can imagine, for we know for a fact that nothing, absolutely nothing happens to the children of God unless it passes through the throne of His grace first, unless He allows it, and so in His infinite wisdom, a wisdom we must trust, our Lord has either sent or allowed every last fragment of whatever suffering comes our way.
I would ask you to spend a few moments thinking about these three verses before you read on; “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2nd Cor. 5:21) “…others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” “…and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11) Straight to the point then, are you willing to die for Christ.
I am not referring here to the death of our sinful self within us, nor to denying ourselves of the things that matter the most to us, but of the actual physical death of your body, are you willing to have your life ended for the glory of God if that is what He asks of you. Read Hebrews 11, look at those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that He asked of them, and see what God Himself put in His Holy Word about them, “of whom the world was not worthy.” (Heb. 11:38) The Scriptures are full of individuals who hated our Lord, who despised His majesty and power, and since they could not reach Him, they exacted their rage and anger upon His children, and these children, these men and women of God loved not their lives to the end, and the world was not worthy of them.
There is an organization, one of many that fear God and give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, called The Voice of the Martyrs, and the accounts that you will read of your brothers and sisters in Christ who are willingly suffering for the glory of the Lamb are part of the reason that I feel I have no right to expound on the subject of suffering for Christ, those that we read about in Hebrews 11, those who loved not their lives unto the end, those who are imprisoned, being tortured today, dying at the hands of those who even today still hate the name of our Lord, these are the ones that we all should be listening to.
“A wise man fears, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident.” (Psalm 14:16) I am not suggesting that you go to a place where you know that your fellow Christians are being persecuted, being tortured and killed for their faith in Christ, but what each of us must ask ourselves is if the Lord calls me to, if I have tried the Spirits, (1st John 4:1) and found that we Have been called to a place on this earth where the danger of losing our life in His service was real and possibly imminent, would we go. My wonderful wife and I were discussing what it might be like for those who will accept Christ during the tribulation, how there might be a knock on the door one evening, and the knowledge that if they open the door, they would be lead off to be “re-educated,” in effect to die. These things are going to happen my friends, and in fact are happening today, at this very moment. If asked to go to this place by our Lord, would you go.
Can you move past the point of embarrassment, can you find your voice in the moments of shame, of the humiliation within ourselves that we each have known when we knew we were to speak up for our Lord, to tell others of our faith and did not. Can you see yourself in the position of yesterday and todays martyrs, those that the world was not worthy of, or will you just continue to admire them from a distance and hope that it doesn’t come to that for you. We are well past the point of turning the other cheek here my friends, we have reached the juncture of faith and failure, of a decision for Christ or a decision for self-preservation. Do not think that this is only happening in countries where this great oppression towards the children of God is already occurring, there is a renewed ruthlessness around the globe towards born again believers, it has started in the courts, but will not end there. A great many of us may be called upon to stand for our faith, in many different ways.
I would ask you this question now, one I ask myself on a regular basis, would a jury of your peers, your friends, relatives, even your family, be able to convict you in a court of the world of being a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if the verdict was guilty, which we all hope it would be, and the penalty death, would you plead for mercy from them, beg for your life, renounce your Savior for a few more years of life, or prepare your heart to joyfully and gladly meet your Lord. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who had to make that decision today.
I am not worthy to write these words to you, and in the entirety of this series I have continuously felt that I have missed the point, that the truth of these matters are still hidden from me.
“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful creator.” (1st Peter 4:19)
Whether it be in mind, body or spirit, please always remember, nothing comes into the life of the believer unless it allowed by our Lord. Read with me here from 1st Peter 5:6+7 the promises of our Lord, the faithful words of the one who loves you above all others, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for You.” Your suffering is noticed my friends, it is noticed by the only one who matters.
We suffer with Christ when we finally realize that our very lives are in His hands, and that He can be completely trusted with it, both now and for eternity.