The other evening a Christian friend was sharing how hard that must have been on John the Baptist to live all out for God and end up being beheaded. John was not an exception, but maybe the rule. For example, Jesus was crucified and 10 of the 12 apostles died brutal deaths of martyrdom. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, ended his life out of remorse. Many others met an early death for remaining faithful to Jesus. Were these deaths cold water on the followers of Christ around them or were they kindling for firing up the faithful?
Death, persecution, and difficult times should be kindling to the faith and heart of a believer. 1 Peter 4:16 says suffering should result in praise, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name.” (NIV) Most martyrs would have been freed by merely renouncing Christ. Instead of rejecting Christ, they chose to act on the reality and truth of their faith. Psalm 126:5 shows how their act of faith (sowing) was not easy (tears), but their act of faith brought them into the heart of God, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” (NIV) No one relishes suffering and experiencing hard times. This dread is changed when you realize the tremendous value that results when your faith touches the heart of God during difficult times. Followers of Christ who live all out for Him open themselves to experiencing a greater measure of God’s life. This experience comes not by focusing on the difficulty, but focusing on the incomparable value of God’s heart being poured into you. Jude 24 describes it as being in His glorious presence, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” (NIV) Look on difficult times through the lens of Christ where faith becomes actualized hope; difficult times are an open door to experiencing Christ; and your life is sculpted one more time by the living Christ!
1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (NIV)
Do you know someone who needs this message on difficult times? If so, forward this devotion to them as a blessing for their growth in Christ.