Sarah (12) recently brought me a book called “Jesus Freaks.” She was reading it and was moved by a story about a group of believers who were being persecuted. The officials wanted them to denounce Christ and if they didn’t, they threatened to kill the believers’ children. The Christians would not denounce their Lord and in the end, the officials did murder all the children and the adults as well. They did not beg for their lives or the lives of their children. Instead, they sang hymns into eternity.
I thought of James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
If we find it difficult to praise the Lord when we’re simply cold or a little hungry, how can we ever stand firm in the face of the type of persecution that Christians in other parts of the world experience? I heard a song by Mercy Me recently titled “Bring the Rain.” (You can listen to the song here .) The chorus states,
“Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory And I know there’ll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to
praise You Jesus, bring the rain”
Some of you know that I was abused as a child. I never had the joy of my first sexual experience inside of marriage because I was raped when I was still a virgin at 20. People told me to “get over” the fact that we couldn’t have any more children after Hannah was born. There have been soooo many days when I have not been able to get out of bed because the pain has been SO incredibly bad that Sarah has had to bring my medicine to me and let me lay in bed for an hour for it to take effect before my legs would work. In the past, I’ve called out to God through these and similar devastating times in my life. I didn’t know how I would make it or why God would allow these things to happen. However, the times when I’ve experienced the most hardship in life are absolutely the times when I have been most focused on my Saviour. That’s not easy to admit, but I almost think it’s almost natural to do this. I have a relationship with my Father ALL the time, but I want to CLING to my Father when times are difficult. I have never had an earthly father and when times are rough, it is incredibly comforting to me to know that God is there. In most circumstances, I readily share the gospel with others, but it’s during times of “rain” when that seems to be all I focus on because that’s really all there is left. And actually, that is the only thing that matters.
I am glad that the other note has encouraged some of you. I really wanted the words to be encouraging, but it is difficult to know what to say sometimes when I am worried for my own family and others, but we are still so much better off than billions of people around the world. How do I say, “I’m worried about not having heat or food” when there are children living in cardboard boxes while mine sleep in their own beautiful beds? How do I say, “Well, many others are worse off than we are when a local homeschool family is one bill away from losing their home?” Knowing others are in a worse situation does not lesson the fear and frustration for their own family and it’s not fair to ignore someone’s feelings of anxiety. (When people used to say, “Well, you have enough children anyway” after we discovered I couldn’t have more, it made me so mad that they didn’t even CARE what I thought. They were just ignoring me. Actually, this still makes me upset … so don’t say this to me. : )
I think it all boils down to our relationship with the Lord. This world can take away everything and I do agree with Mercy Me – if the “pain” is what it takes to praise Jesus, then we should welcome these times. We SAY we want to praise him, but are we really willing to praise him in all circumstances? Are we really willing to be taken to whatever point in our life it is that makes us SEEK our Lord and give him glory? Are you ready? Are you willing?
It is great to hear from others of you in the rain right now. You can share with me without fear that it will be given to anyone else and I won’t judge you for your worries. I am a good secret-keeper and I am also happy to encourage you in any way that I can.
Thank you for letting me get all this off my chest. I am concerned for many of you, but as I’ve said many times over the past few days, I am thankful that my God is the God of the universe – yesterday, today and tomorrow. How awesome is that!
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)