It’s such an incredible blessing to be part of the family of God.
Not only are we children of the King of kings, but we also have brothers and sisters in Christ all around the globe! We can pray for one another and encourage each other when we face the challenges of life.
I was grateful during my cancer journey to know that I had so many people praying for me. Since then I have had the privilege of praying for countless others who were going through their own trials, including some who were being abused for their faith.
You’ll read some of their stories in the following excerpt from my book, Why? Answers to Weather the Storms of Life. These people — like Job — didn’t always know the reason they were suffering.
But they trusted that God was in control … and you can, too!
Today’s excerpt is a continuation of Chapter 1: When the Bottom Falls Out.
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Just as in the early days of the church, persecution for faith is still a daily reality for many believers around the world. Their trials are unimaginable.
In fact, according to Open Doors USA, there are 215 million Christians suffering for their faith every day, from North Korea to the Middle East, North Africa, China, India, and beyond. Many believers are arrested, beaten, starved, and even murdered because of their religion.
In Poso, Indonesia, teenage girls suffered the ultimate persecution for confessing Christ. Three Christian high school students were on their way to school when they were viciously attacked and beheaded by radial Islamists. The head of one of the girls was deposited in front of the nearby evangelical church. Two others were attacked as well, but survived … despite the fact that their throats were slit. Soon after, two other young Christian girls were shot point blank in the head with pistols near a church.
A few years back, I was in Vietnam where I met a 35-year-old pastor. He had only been a Christian for a year but became a pastor because there was no one else to assume this responsibility. He had already experienced great persecution. He was beaten many times … and so was his wife. The authorities burned down his house because he would not forsake Christ. He built a tent, and they burned that down, also.
He is now living in another tent with his wife and four children. Recently, his wife was once again severely beaten … this time she was pregnant and lost her baby. Most of us will never be called upon to face trials of this magnitude, but for many of our brothers and sisters, it is a common reality.
The story of another brave man who was severely tested for his faith made a deep impression on my life. His name is Cornel Iova.
I was preaching in Romania a number of years ago. Pastor Cornel asked me to go with him to a village church. He was so excited because it would be the first baptismal service in 50 years. On the way there, he told me how the Communist officials had torn the building down three times … and all three times the church members united and rebuilt it. We baptized many people and saw many come to Christ that day. It was a glorious day!
The pastor told me that day was historic for another reason. “It’s the first anniversary of the death of my wife,” he said. When I asked how, he told me she had died of cancer. He knew I was a cancer survivor, and I asked him to tell me about it.
“She was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Some medical doctors from Great Britain felt they could spare her life with a bone marrow transplant surgery, but that delicate surgery could not be done in Romania. They offered to pay her expenses to come to London and perform the surgery free of charge!
“When she went to get her visa, the Communist officials told her they would let her go to England on one condition … that she renounce her faith in Jesus Christ. She did not hesitate. She looked those officials in the eye and said, ‘I cannot do what you ask … I will not do what you have asked.’ And with her head held high, she turned and walked out. And in a few months … she was gone.” What bravery and dedication!
I am inspired and touched by Christians around the world who endure so much just to serve Jesus Christ. They face unbelievable struggles and challenges every single day.
So we have “reap what we sow” trials and “spiritual” trials. But maybe the most difficult kind of trial to accept is the “senseless trial.” The problem is that there is simply no rational or logical reason for this kind of ordeal.
That is the kind of trial Job faced! His friends were convinced that Job was facing a personal storm because of hidden sin in his life. His wife was certain it was God’s fault. Job asked many of the right questions but still did not know the “why?”
When answers aren’t enough, we must choose to rely on faith in our Heavenly Father … even when we are hurting so bad that we don’t think He’s around.
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Click here to order your own copy of Why and continue reading.
My prayer is that as you read it, you will be inspired, comforted, and challenged. You will travel on a journey from pain to healing … from questions to answers … from emptiness to purpose.