September 22, 2008

How Have Your Trials Produced Hope?

I recently watched a video by Voice of the Martyrs with my teen Bible study group. It told the stories of Christians who had been severely persecuted in countries around the world. Jesus promised that Christians would have it rough in this world. In fact, He said:

"If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. 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. 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." (John 15:18-21 ESV).

Many of us live in countries where persecution is much less severe than in places like Orissa, India (right now), or Pakistan. However, does that mean we are excused from the world's hatred in our more free countries? How have you, or someone you know, experienced suffering as a Christian? Has there been pressure on you to deny the truth since you became a Christian? How has your faith been tested, and how has that produced hope in Christ? (Romans 5:3-4; Philippians 1:29).

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4 comments:

Stephanie said...

These are all good questions. Actually, I find this post very convicting. When I read or hear about persecution that believers are suffering in other countries, I'm so ashamed to think of how reluctant I am sometimes to speak of my relationship with God or explain the gospel. What am I afraid of? That someone will have a bad opinion of me? I don't face physical persecution here, and yet the reluctance is still there to speak up...this is really something I'm trying to change through God's grace...

Penn Tomassetti said...

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for your honest comments. I don't doubt that the very same Christians in those places of severe persecution feel the same way you do about wanting to be more courageous and less shy. It is God who makes us stand. Even though we don't live in as much danger or suffering as they do, we are Christians, and the Lord's word will be fulfilled in our lives. I know someone who is suffering as a Christian right now. We prayed today for his friend who has been spreading slander about him to other friends and has even done worse things to him recently. This brother was graciously praying for the fellow who has been treating him wrongly.

We may not suffer as they do, but we do share in it with them. Sometimes it is the pain of rejection (as I've felt many times). God bless you in your desire to stand in the face of disapproval.

semifl said...

Anyone who follows Christ will suffer. It is fruitless to consider that someone suffers more than you; the nature of their suffering is different. The follower of Christ who is pressed with his very life is living in the glory of the Father’s presence moment by moment. He would rarely want to be called a persecuted or suffering Christian, or be pitied. In fact, he might see us as the object for pity. When our faith is not pressed in all directions it becomes fatty and complacent; it becomes an accessory to our person rather than the reality of who we are. It is easy to have faith when nothing is asked of you. It is far worse a persecution for a believer to suffer internally over a comfortable religion than to feel the presence of your enemies pushing against you from the outside. In the latter you have the hope and conviction to stand in the strength of God, while in the former the enemy has already infiltrated your strongholds.

Penn Tomassetti said...

"Anyone who follows Christ will suffer."

Amen. That is exactly right (Romans 8:17-18).