Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian who lived from 1909-2001. His testimony of the sufferings and torture he endured for his faith in Jesus Christ has been well documented and can be easily found and read on a Google search. He was imprisoned in Romania by the then Communist regime for publicly declaring that Communism and Christianity were not compatible. In later years when his freedom had been bought, he often traveled to encourage the persecuted church. On one occasion when he was being taken to minister and testify in the U.S., he asked the brother who was helping take him around a question. As he leaned his physically weakened body on him, he enquired, “How is it that I share all over the world the fact that when you come to Jesus, it may cost you everything. But here in the west, I hear a different gospel preached that when you come to Jesus, you can HAVE everything?”
In some of our western churches we have such a wrong idea of what it may cost to follow Jesus. Thankfully, at this present time, we are not imprisoned or tortured for our faith.
Our challenges in the western world are different to the persecuted church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in other parts of the globe, but nevertheless, we all have challenges in our walk of faith. We have quoted the following verse recently, but feel compelled to share it again as it continues to quicken, challenge and shape our lives.
2 Corinthians2:14 “NOW thanks be unto God, which ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in EVERY place.” The more dire a situation I find myself in produces the greater opportunity I have to tap into the power in the name of Jesus. This scripture instructs me to have a thankful heart in (not for) every situation, which is the key to a triumphant life. The following scripture endorses the previous one: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In EVERY THING give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.”
Our situations are opportunities to go deeper in God. A thankful heart always causes me to triumph in Christ and manifests the savour of His presence in every place. There is power in the name of Jesus that lifts you above your situation and gives you His peace which is independent of your circumstance. It is the joy of His presence.
Peter encourages us: 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.”
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Do I believe the truth that whatever befalls me in life, God’s love is able to sustain and keep me?
Canon White was asked if he ever experienced fear as he was often working in dangerous situations threatened by terrorists. He recalls he was once captured and locked in a room full of dismembered human body parts. Fear came over him as the horror of his predicament dawned. In desperation he cried out to the Lord and began to give thanks to Him IN (note: not FOR) his situation. Eventually he was released. Giving thanks to the Lord will always bring a positive to a negative circumstance.
Many of us will not have to endure such dire circumstances and challenges as the Richard Wurmbrands and Canon Whites of this world, because that is not our calling. Many are called, few are chosen….but I can still be chosen if I walk in humility before the Lord. Every calling is precious in God’s eyes. The desire of my heart may be to do great exploits for God and yet, in my eyes, I may think myself a failure in that area. Well take heart, Jesus has a message to encourage all of us who want to be His disciples. Matthew 23:11 – here Jesus teaches us that the ministry of greatness is to serve. This is often a hidden ministry to the eyes of men, but not to God. His eye is all-seeing and is well pleased to see His Church in a servant’s robe. We can all serve one another, preferring others before ourselves. There is beauty and humility in servanthood. God sees our heart, every motive behind every act. In the kingdom of God a servant heart glorifies God and brings Him great pleasure. Jesus was our Servant King. He left the glory of Heaven and humbled Himself to embody human flesh and become the Saviour of the world. John 10 records Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, the act of a lowly servant. He demonstrates true greatness in servanthood by the power of example for us to follow. True greatness serves, loves and protects.
If we have a heart to serve and glorify God, we will live a victorious life in Jesus. NOW is NOW (taking us back to our first scripture 2 Cor. 2:14) and presents us with a perfect opportunity to live a triumphant life in Jesus. Keep a thankful heart.