“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Chist not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29).
I’ve never been in a situation where faith comes at the price of suffering, persecution, beatings, my life.
So, when I read passages like the one above I read it as if it’s a metaphor.
But for many Christians for most of Christian history, these words were literal. I can’t help but wonder, if I would be as bold and sure as the Christian saints who have gone before us.
And, before you think I am talking about the days of gladiators and such, I share with you the testimony of a saint from our lifetime:
It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their (the communists’) terms.
It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.
- Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001)
Father, we lift up to you those who are being persecuted for their faith. Comfort and be their strength.
Lord, we lift up to you those of us who believe in comfort. We confess that our faith is too lukewarm. We confess that we have not considered the cost. We are too easily distracted and discouraged by minor comfort. Lord, forgive and strengthen our faith.