Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suffering for Love.

In every dark crevice of the world, desolation resounds as a silent siren, wailing only in the ears of those in its close grasp. Opposition stands, attempting to blockade the work of the Almighty. Yet, His hands reach beyond the darkness, piercing the weak walls of the adversary. This is so through the perseverance of God’s soldiers, who stand brave and overpowering in their statutes. Amidst the gore-trodden battlefields stand the bold and faithful: those who embrace hearts bursting at the seams, filled with flame for the eternal cause of the Savior. Amidst the abhorred stains of evil’s sword stand the martyrs.

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Paul, the greatest of all warriors for Christ, joyfully declared, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). Suffering the most unimaginable of torments for Christ’s precious name stands as a prolific agent of joy. Human beings are present on this unforgiving fragment of dust and waste for the length of the blink of an eye. This segment of God’s creation has been rendered destitute as a result of perversion by sin. It has been prostituted to the depths of hopelessness, where darkness spawns absent and despicable forms that aim to engulf love. Those bound by Christ’s ever-present adoration find themselves among the lost and oppressive at every turn. One mission has been assigned: share God’s overwhelming love with those who stray form the Creator. This one mission has been grasped to the point of near exhaustion; yet, the faithful do not waver, nor do their hearts falter. Christ is worth every ounce of earthly suffering, for the pain will cease, and its subjects will arrive at the gates of their Home, where Father will embrace child. The surreal picture of grace lies at the end of the road marked with suffering, and stained with the blood of the Savior. However, at this intersection lies a new road ceaseless in composition; a new road laced with joy and everlasting peace; a golden shore trodden with the treasures of God’s own heart. Why stake the short road for the everlasting paradise? All soldiers of Christ have a calling: share the Way, the Mystery, with the lost who have no way, and who dwell not on a mystery. The faithful must persevere as Paul did: “...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4). This character is vital when dedicating one’s entire life and being to Christ’s cause for love, for it bears witness to the lost, and thus instills hope in their darkened hearts. A fire should burn in the eyes of the apostle that acts as a torch which leads the way to a life that bears fruit for the Kingdom of God. Often, the mission must stretch beyond actions and words; it must expand and become resistance to suffering; it must become endurance that leads to a heart set on the goal ahead. Christians must persevere with joy, not in vain. It is an overbearing privilege to endure suffering and torment for Christ’s holy and precious name. He empowers the faithful to endure any amount of worldly hostility, for His sacrifice is worth every ounce of affliction that could possibly be applied.

A martyr is one who endures suffering or even death for the cause of Christ. A martyr dies to himself and denies himself before the throne of Christ. Martyrs span the globe; they are present in every depraved and declining land, surrendering their lives to reach the lost. They joyfully suffer incomprehensible endeavors while wholeheartedly setting their eyes on their Father.

Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani is a martyr. He has been sentenced to death by the Iranian establishment. As a leader in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” network, Paster Youcef’s life has been dedicated to furthering the Kingdom of Heaven throughout a restricted nation. Multiple members of his church have been imprisoned, as well. His wife and children have received threats in association with his “crimes,” which include his refusal to heed to the government’s command that his son study the Quran. Eighty-three or more Christians present in Iran have been arrested within the year 2010. Paster Youcef is one among the thousands upon thousands who face death as a retribution for their professions for Christ.

As believers, we must continually pray for the oppressed. We must also be willing to face equal punishment for what we believe. Christ suffered for us. Is it worth it to cower down and denounce His name? He deserves it. He gave His life for us; therefore, He is worth our lives and comfort. He is worth our all.

Amen.

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