Acts 5: 40-42
“I have tried and I cannot find, either in scripture or history, a strong-willed individual whom God used greatly, until He allowed them to hurt deeply.” — Charles Swindoll
Maybe some Ukrainians are feeling the same way. They are going through deep hurt as their precious country is ripped and bombed to shreds. Daily news reports make my heart ache. Some families are separating at the Russia/Ukrainian border; the men stay behind to defend the country, the women and children flee to safety. Sounds familiar. Hundreds of personal tragedies and stories will emerge from this horror when these children become adults.
So many people, myself, included are praying for the Ukrainians as photos of mommas clinging to babies and seeking refuge in churches and other places set up for them are plastered all over national and social media. Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than watching the innocent and vulnerable suffer. The Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse and many other humanitarian organizations are rushing to the Ukraine to help. Praise God for that.
And my heart sings with another headline. You won’t hear this on the national news. From the Christian Network Europe news, “As tensions between Ukraine and Russia rise, Ukrainian Christians are strengthened in their faith.” This is where the hope is! This is where the beauty lies. People are open to Jesus like never before!
The Ukrainians are asking for Bibles. Let me repeat that. The Ukrainians are begging for Bibles. Do you appreciate the significance? They are setting the example, friends! How blessed are they in this moment in history.
How seriously are we taking God’s word when our skies are free from bombs raining daily on our churches, schools and hospitals and we have unlimited access to multiple English translations, Bible aps and Bible studies? How often are we down on our knees, begging God to end our personal pain and struggles, when that’s the vehicle through which He, a just and merciful God, uses to draw us closer to Him?
Yes, there is purpose in the pain. While I’m not trying to make light of personal suffering we all endure, because the struggles are real, but our experiences need to be put in proper perspective compared to the persecution and spiritual battles going on globally. We have no idea how privileged and blessed we are in the West.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that persecution is actually a blessing. Something worthy of rejoicing. The beating that Peter and John endured was the first time any of the apostles had been physically abused for their faith. These men knew how Jesus had suffered and they praised God that he had allowed them to be persecuted like their Lord. Yes, friends, thanking God for persecution, challenges and trials is a notion foreign to our sensibilities. We are consumed by comfort and security.
“ . . . they called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:40-42) NIV.
I pray that the Gospel message will penetrate my heart and mind so deeply that suffering and hardship will not snuff out my determination to share the Gospel however I can.
The Voice of the Martyrs is an American nondenominational ministry serving persecuted Christians in restricted and hostile countries around the world. The Holy Spirit has nudged me to fervently pray for ALL persecuted Christians. This almost never makes headlines, but awareness is so important. A magazine is published providing specific locations where Gospel outreach and persecution is occurring and what support, supplies and prayers are most needed. Please join me on bended knee, as we continue to pray for the Ukraine and hundreds of other suffering, wounded brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are grateful for the freedoms that we enjoy in this wonderful country. We are free to meet in public or in any church to worship you and fellowship with other believers without risking death or prison. Thank you for this protection. But we lift up to you our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffering on the other side of globe, such as the Ukraine, Africa, India and southeast Asia. We pray for their physical, emotional and spiritual strength and endurance. We pray for a hedge of protection around them while they work to spread the Gospel. We pray that they stand firm and do not lose faith. And we also pray for those laboring to spread the Gospel in our own country.
In Jesus’ Name