In the States, my picture of suffering was very different than it is now. To me, suffering was:
- The rejected tract at Walmart
- The criticism of Christians by the Atheists downtown
- The Facebook comment that bashes biblical Christianity
- The anti-creationist blog post
- The city law requiring a permit for street preaching
- The restaurant manager who says tracts may not be distributed there
- The student told he couldn’t bring his Bible to class
Though those things are difficult and most certainly are a form of persecution, my views of suffering have transformed since coming here.
It now looks more like this:
- The daughter kicked out of the home and family for becoming a Christian
- The wife rebuked for going to church
- The Bible college student beaten for wanting to plant a church
- The husband/son-in-law rejected for refusing to worship a statue
- The church bombed
- The man chased out of the village with machetes for being a Christian
- The political group fighting to force the nation to return to being Hindu-only
- The anti-Christian rallies
- Taxis driving around with loud speakers threatening Christians
And as I watch the news this week, my view of suffering has changed again. It looks more like:
- The mother raped and killed because she will not reject the Saviour
- The child beheaded because he owns a Bible
- The father shot execution style because he will not convert to Islam
- Heads mounted on stakes to drive fear into the heart of Christians
- People fleeing to the mountains, with no food or water
But there is another face of suffering that we as Christians should never forget…
The news will never show it. It doesn’t fit their agenda. It doesn’t gain an audience. The “happy are ye” crowd.
I have seen the happy are ye crowd. They walk into church with a smile on their faces. They preach with bruises. They attend Bible college without family support. They pray for their persecutors. And they sing.
In the States, I wasn’t in the “happy are ye” crowd. I was the victim. I couldn’t believe that I could be suffering such persecution or rejection. I had my rights. And I should be treated fairly! But the more my view of suffering changes, the more my response to it changes, too. I am no victim. I am blessed.
I wonder how many people in the mountains of Iraq are singing, though through tears at times. I wonder how many times the cameras edited out the Christian who praised Jesus with their last breath. I wonder how many people have knelt down to pray and tell Jesus He is worthy of it all. I wonder…
Sing on, my brothers and sisters. Your suffering is not in vain. And joy comes in the morning. Happy are ye…
Pray for our persecuted brethren.
Search your heart.
Are you really suffering?
If not, is it because you are not doing anything to exalt the name of Christ?
If you are not facing persecution, it may be a symptom of a much greater problem in your life…