Mark 6:27 (KJV) “And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison”
How many of our brothers and sisters throughout history have suffered because of their commitment to Christ? The mental torture of knowing you’re about to be killed, the physical pain–these combine together in horrible persecutions of the faithful. There are those of us who have it so comfortably in living out our faith, but this doesn’t diminish the truth that many of our fellow believers don’t have it so easy. They are under attack.
Day after day, Christians are under a tremendous amount of terrifying threats and situations in so many parts of the world. People who know not God the way we do ask, “Where is God in all this? How can He allow His people to undergo such suffering? Why doesn’t He rescue them everytime they’re in trouble?” Those questions are understandable, especially when born out genuine concern. But there are of course people we continue to pray for because they ask those questions out of spite for God who many of them claim they don’t believe anyway.
But those questions rise from more need of knowledge and understanding about our God. He’s a very good Father to His children, a very good Master to His servants. There’s no question about His rescuing power; He’s done it so many times–many of them in absolutely amazing miraculous ways. He can. But God never promised us a suffering-free life. The opposite is true: with all His blessings, rewards, grace, aid, and mercy, He declared that suffering is a part of Christian experience. And unless He comes, we will still experience physical death. The righteous suffers, the wicked prospers–this is a fact of life. But God’s ways can’t be contained in a box. There are also righteous people who prosper and wicked people who suffer the consequences of their wickedness. The sense in all this is found in the right perspective–not the earthly temporary sphere, but the spiritual eternal reality.
We don’t run after it, but suffering for our Lord is a joyful honor for us, and death is sweet; it’s a blessed experience–even in the Lord’s sight. Our suffering results in glory that far outweighs our suffering; our death is a transition from the imperfect, trouble-riddled temporal world, to the perfect problem-free eternal life. As for the pain involved; I pray that when/or if it happens, our sights and thoughts will be captured by the glory of the Lord as we see Him standing at the right hand of the Father, preparing to usher us into out eternal home.