This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Pastor Samuel Lamb (imprisoned for over 20 years, and persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ, by Chinese Communist Authorities), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
If we endure, we will also reign with Him. (1 Timothy 2:12)
Endurance means suffering here. In English, the word "patient" is the same for a sick person and for a person who endures. A sick person cannot choose. He must be patient. As we suffer for Christ, we have to be like the patient who must be patient.
Those who endure suffering for Christ's sake are patients who are very healthy. They secure blessing upon blessing and will reign with Him in glory.
When we share in His sufferings we will also share in His glory. Do not complain about your sufferings--but pray for endurance. "Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7). Not just prison doors but also spiritual doors of darkness and defeat. So that we might walk in the light.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
A moment of introspection: We live in troubled and troubling times--Christianity being assaulted, it often seems, from every quarter. God’s Word says to us "If we endure, we will also reign with Him [Christ]." (clarification added) We hear and are personally confronted by daily reports of new persecution of our brothers and sisters of the Faith around the world. We pray, for there is power in prayer. Again, Jesus speaks: "If we endure, we will also reign with Him." We labor to find new ways to communicate the tragedy of Christian suffering, to our churches and family; yet, they do not seem to hear or respond. Our Savior has said: "If we endure, we will also reign with Him." Our spirits lag at times and our determination falters at other times--to continue to pray for, and facilitate prayer for, those in our worldwide church who endure pain and loss for the sake of Christ. Yet we hear the Risen One whisper "If we endure, we will also reign with Him."
Repeatedly in the New Testament, the NT writers exhort their readers to endure, to hold on, to persevere until the end. We have chosen to serve God through Christ, and to do so via intercessory prayer. Let us respond to the message of God's Word, and endure, keep going, finish the race. Pastor Lamb had chosen to serve God through God's own channel for him. Yet he was famous for another quote that said "Persecution is good." There is a good resource available through Voice Of the Martyrs, a DVD entitled "Malatya"--and it is billed as a wake-up call to Christians in the West. But it conveys the unexpectedness of persecution and suffering, and shows the aftermath of that pain in the lives of believers. We must decide, before persecution comes, how we would respond to such infliction of pain; for during the persecution we will not be at our best. An associated resource, from Open Doors, is a CD entitled "Better than Life--Songs Celebrating Today's Stories of Faith". We pray for church members who suffer personal injury at the hands of attackers, and we know from the Bible (1 Corinthians 12:26) that we also suffer with them, as parts of the same body--which are dependent upon each other.
In the performance of our calling, we know the power of God at work within us, to the working out of our faith. We can learn much from the persecuted believers, and endurance is just such a lesson. From our intercession, we know what persecution looks like. That will help us to endure when it comes to our own land unexpectedly. We can best endure the coming persecution if we are prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually for it. Listen to the testimony of those who have survived the attacks. In empathy, feel with them. How would we respond in a similar situation? If we consider this prayerfully, God may well alert us to areas in our own lives where He would bolster our resolve, shore up our defenses, and solidify our foundation. Live--endure. Pray--endure. Prepare--endure. Our House of Prayer participants are joining together to intercede and to study the Standing Strong Through the Storm book from Open Doors. We want to be prepared; in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:10b), Christ empowers us when He says, "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you... Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." Endure--receive the crown of life. But be aware, though, as Pastor Lamb has reminded us--that "endurance means suffering here." Be patient, uncomplaining--praying for endurance.