Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, February 23, 2014
SUFFERING CAN PURIFY MY FAITH
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.1 Peter 1:6-7
Believers in North Korea’s underground church recite five principles, along with the Lord’s Prayer, at their secret gatherings. The special place of purifying suffering in the spiritual life of this church is striking:
1. Our persecution and suffering are our joy and honor.
2. We want to accept ridicule, scorn and disadvantages with joy in Jesus’ name.
3. As Christians, we want to wipe others’ tears away and comfort the suffering.
4. We want to be ready to risk our life because of our love for our neighbor, so that they
also become Christians.
5. We want to live our lives according to the standards set in God’s Word.
Christian singer, Helen Berhane was arrested for sharing her faith in her home country of Eritrea. She spent almost three years in prison, much of this time in a metal shipping container. Because she would not deny her faith or stop sharing her faith, she was beaten so severely she could not walk. During her time in the containers she wrote new Christian songs and spent her time encouraging other Christian prisoners, as well as witnessing to the prison guards.
After her release, she resettled in Europe and has written her prison memoirs in a small book titled, Song of the Nightingale. In the introduction when describing her feelings inside the shipping container prison, she writes:
Sometimes I cannot believe that this is my life—these four metal walls, all of us corralled like cattle, the pain, the hunger, the fear. All because of my belief in a God who is risen, who charges me to share my faith with those who do not yet know him. A God who I am forbidden to worship. I think back to a question I have been asked many times over my months in prison: “Is your faith worth this, Helen?” As the guards continue on their rounds, I whisper the answer: “Yes.”
RESPONSE: Today I will accept suffering as something that can prove and purify my faith.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for those trials and challenges that help me be more like You. You are worth it all and more!
1. Helen Berhane, Song of the Nightingale (Colorado Springs: Authentic Media, 2009), p. xiii.