New to Refiner’s Fire? I encourage you to read the FORWARD.
God works in strange ways His wonders to perform. As I struggled with internal terror, God used people who lived through real terror to strengthen my trust in Him.
Joe’s first trip into Eastern Europe came quickly. (This picture holds a deep memory for him – a story for another time).
The kids and I returned to California to stay with my parents while Joe left for … we didn’t know where. For protection of the ministry teams and Christians they would visit, families weren’t allowed any information.
On his return, Joe shared amazing miracles he lived through during the delivery of Bibles. As he spoke, I was moved by the change I saw in him. God touched him. The sentence he would share after almost every trip to a “restricted” country …
“Wanda, not one Christian I talked to asked us to pray for the persecution to end. They asked we pray for strength, that they would remain faithful, through whatever God sent them to endure.”
For years I wondered how Christians could possibly not ask for the persecution to end. Most of us have a skewed view of Christianity. “God wouldn’t make me suffer, He loves me.” It is because He loves us that He walks with us through suffering.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
If a person has surrendered to Jesus Christ, the Triune God promises to be there when He takes the person to a path of suffering.
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ
you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now
hear that I still have.”
What a blessing it was to play even a small role in serving the suffering church while I was walking through my own trial.
When we returned to Oregon Joe had a few days at home before he left for another two weeks. An amazing man of God from a country in turmoil due to a ruthless leader, was the speaker for Joe’s next banquet tour. The speaker stayed with us for a few days before he and Joe left. I sat in awe at the dinner table as he told us the following story.
Heading home from work one day, he heard on the radio that he had been killed in an automobile accident. He knew the plan was to murder him. He had to get out of their country fast.
But how? What about his family? His wife was nine months pregnant and they had three other children.
He drove to his brother’s, telling him what he had heard. They made the decision to leave immediately, walking over the mountains into the neighboring country. They had to leave everything. No money. No identification. Everything was left behind. The only thing they took with them was a watch, using time and the sun to track the direction they were heading.
As he walked, he prayed for his family’s safety.
He shared, “We made it safely across, but we had nothing. I stood in front of a jewelry store window, looking at my reflection, crying out to God. You have taken everything from me, I have nothing!
God spoke back to me, ‘You still have your soul.’”
The families escaped the next week, riding on the back of an open bed truck.
My CHALLENGE to you —
Grab a cup of coffee … imagnine you and I are chatting.
What a blessing it was, being a small part of serving the suffering church, especially while walking through my own trial.
Over the years, I thought about God’s word, “You still have your soul.”
Is anything more important?
Through the years when God has “granted” that I should experience terror or He has taken me to places of relational and physical pain, I remember those who have had it much worse and remained faithful.
I cry out, “Father give me the desire, wisdom and strength to remain faithful during this pain. Father, I would love for this to be removed but not my will, Yours’ be done.”
Jesus, fully human and fully God, suffered more than any other human.
- Hebrews 5:7 is a powerful verse.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”
- Read what John Calvin says in his commentary about this verse John Calvin Hebrews 5 … Hebrews 5:7 Jesus is our example to respond to suffering.
- Another resource for Hebrews 5:7 The Greatest Prayer in the World This transcript of John Piper’s sermon gives we, who are walking through any type of suffering, insight in how to pray.
- Pulled from John Piper’s sermon, a quote from Johnathan Edward’s commentary on Hebrews 7:
Jonathan Edwards answers,
This was the greatest act of obedience that Christ was to perform.
He prays for strength and help, that his poor feeble human nature
might be supported, that he might not fail in this great trial, that he
might not sink and be swallowed up, and his strength so overcome
that he should not hold out, and finish the appointed obedience.
He was afraid lest his poor feeble strength should be overcome,
and that he should fail in so great a trial, that he should be
swallowed up by that death that he was to die, and so should
not be saved from death; and therefore he offered up strong
crying and tears unto him that was able to strengthen him,
and support, and save him from death, that the death he
was to suffer might not overcome his love and obedience,
but that he might overcome death, and so be saved from it.
Find further scripture here Scripture Regarding Suffering
Next Page: MORE BLESSING! In the Midst of Terror