A small container with water pouring out
A small container with water pouring out

Stronger Stuff

"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships,
persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

A church occupied in Great Commission work will see growth when people discover the love of the Father through Jesus, His Son. Then, fuelled by the Holy Spirit's guidance, these new followers of Jesus mature in the faith through discipleship and the application of God’s Word. Thus, the church becomes a marvellous blending of young and old, immature and mature, growing together in awe and reverence of the one true God.

However, Christians will encounter hostility in this world because of their faith and witness of Christ. As the church increases through conversion, the world's pushback will be one of threats, intimidation and eventual attack. Regardless of where they live, every Christian will be hated by the world because of their allegiance to Jesus. This is just as true for Christians in Canada as it is for believers in North Korea. While hostility from the world may vary from location to location, suffering for righteousness is a normal aspect of the Christian life.

For example, in Sri Lanka, while mob intimidations and attacks incited by Buddhist monks are common, local authorities often turn a blind eye to these incidents. Such aggression is not what we in the West typically associate with Buddhism, as a "violent Buddhist" is an oxymoron. And yet, whoever rejects Christ, regardless of their religion or belief, the normal outcome will be expressed in opposition to His will and way.

Burned churchI recall hearing a story of a Sri Lankan pastor who witnessed Buddhist leaders and police stand silently in the foreground as an angry mob stormed his church and set it on fire. When the fire eventually died out, the church was completely gutted, with everything destroyed by the flames. Yet, picking through the charred remains, the pastor found a small clay flowerpot – the only thing that survived the fire.

The next Sunday, the congregation gathered in the ruins of their church. The pastor stood to welcome the members and lifted the flowerpot. He then asked, "Why do you think this little pot survived while everything else burned?" After a moment of silence, the pastor stated, "The reason this little pot survived is because it had already been through the fire while being made and, therefore, was able to withstand the heat."

Drawing a lesson from this little pot, he further explained: "The same can be said about our lives. When we go through trials and challenges because of our faith, we become stronger, our faith becomes stronger, and we can stand firm. Remember Isaiah 43:2 which reads, ‘When you pass through the waters, I [God] will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’ You may be going through a challenge this very day in your own life. Whatever it may be, it is not a fire that will destroy you, but the Refiner's fire that will purge and purify your faith for His glory."

Christians are made of "stronger stuff," as God uses the difficulties and trials of life to shape us for His unique calling on our lives. The Apostle Paul tells us that all Christians are in the process of being transformed daily into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). He also reminds us of the fact that all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). For all who desire to live the Godly life in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12), the question we must ask ourselves is: How will we respond when trouble comes because of our faith in Him?

Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, the international founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, spent 14 years in a Communist prison. For much of that time, he was imprisoned underground in complete solitary confinement. He endured tortures and mistreatments that should have killed him. And yet, amid such miserable conditions, Rev. Wurmbrand said: "There's always a good reason to rejoice. There is a God in heaven and in the heart. I had a piece of bread this morning. It was so good! Look now, the sun is shining, and so many here love me! Every day you do not rejoice is a day lost!"

What amazing insights from a man who would not allow hate to rule his heart. Instead, Rev. Wurmbrand chose to live a life of worship, even in the darkest moments of his human experience. A characteristic of the Christian life is thankfulness – a thankfulness not influenced by outward circumstances, but one that resides in the recesses of the heart and offers right sacrifices to God. Hope is the "stronger stuff" in the life of a believer who finds peace in the flames of adversity and rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

"Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God's own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
'Lord Sabaoth' His name,
from age to age the same;
and He must win the battle."1

Grace and peace,

Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada Inc.

1 Stanza 2 of the hymn, A Mighty Fortress, written by Martin Luther and translated by Frederick Hedge (link).

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