“Why suffering?” is a wrong question. No right answer exists for a wrong question.” (Richard Wurmbrand)
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Paul’s letter to the Romans; chapter 8, verse 18)
I remember listening to “gospel” radio one day many years ago and hearing a well-known preacher say, “If the apostle Paul understood covenant, then he would not have had to suffer what he did.” Oh, how foolish and arrogant we have become! We have believed the lie of the man-centered gospel (which is no gospel at all) that makes us believe that God was created for our good pleasure, rather than man being created for His.
How could we get so far off? Is it any wonder that there are so many well-meaning self-seeking “decision makers” filling the pews of our worship halls these days? They have come to find out how to get the most out of Jesus. Suffering or trials are no longer a part of the Christian equation.
I remember spending time with a pastor friend, in Sudan, who was captured by Muslims. He was taken to a torture chamber; where demon possessed people beat him. They hog-tied his wrists and ankles together and repeatedly hoisted him 15 – 20 feet off the ground then let him fall on his face onto a concrete slab. He was kept in a steel container for 15 days in the hot sun. He was put in water up to his nose and forced to stand in it for days. Lastly they dug a grave for him and his friend and threw the two men into the graves. My friend’s colleague died. When the authorities found that my friend lived through the night they exclaimed, “surely your God must be a living God”, and released him. This dear brother never became bitter, or asked the question “why God?” He had already counted the cost of following Christ on the day of his conversion. Through out his time in custody his family didn’t know if he was alive or dead. While he was tortured, he preached Jesus to his persecutors. He is still preaching today.
If only someone would go to our brothers and sisters and tell them about the covenant they have with God, maybe they wouldn’t have to suffer for His namesake (sarcasm). In many persecuted countries around the world, the radio preacher I mentioned earlier would be rejected and labeled a heretic. Yet, in America, we embrace such a teacher, buy his books, and send money to keep his radio show on the air.
The Bible makes it clear that if we desire to live Godly in this present day and stand against the spirit of the age, then we will suffer persecution. Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves in the free world is “why don’t we suffer?” Maybe the reason we don’t suffer is because we have become chameleons in our culture. May we not forget that chameleon’s true colors will be revealed at the judgment seat. We must never fit in. If we fit into the world, then we may not fit in to heaven.
* PICTURE... Me with James Jeda. 10 year old boy burned from his ears to his ankles for not rejecting Jesus and becoming a Muslim. This all occurred after his family was killed for loving Jesus. Southern Sudan 2001.