Experience Joy in Affliction
Last week, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS militants. This follows an unconfirmed, but apparently credible source indicating an Assemblies of God minister was beheaded in Nigeria.
Assemblies of God leaders are urging Christians toward urgent prayer for the suffering and persecuted church. AG general superintendent, George O. Wood, expressed his grief stating, "Our hearts are broken for those who are facing horrendous persecution to the point of death for their faith in Christ. I urge Christians to lift up persecuted believers and their families in urgent prayer. At the same time, may we not fail to remember our eternal hope in Christ, which no one can take away. Those who risk greatly for the cause of Christ never lose, even when it appears they may."
The following devotional was excerpted from Live Dead Joy, authored by Dick Brogden who lives and works among persecuted people.
We learn more about ourselves and our Creator when we are under duress than we do in comfort. Prosperity tends to make us wander; persecution often drives us to the arms of Jesus.
We tell ourselves that joy comes despite affliction. Jesus tells us that joy comes because of affliction. We tell ourselves that joy helps us overcome rejection. Jesus tells us that rejection is a joy. We tell ourselves there is joy on the other side of persecution. Jesus tells us that joy swells in trials. We segregate joy and pain. Jesus unites them, and we discover in the multitude of our anxieties that His “comforts delight our souls” (Ps. 94: 19). Some depths of joy are only discovered in the valley of shadows. Some delights are only magnified when we live in anxious times or places.
Jesus is worthy of our suffering. It is worthwhile to suffer for Him, for when we do, this releases the Spirit. We should understand suffering as an ongoing “fellowship,” not a one-time event that earns a “persecution badge.” The Western approach to suffering is to go through one traumatic experience, write a book about it, join the church lecture-circuit, and lap up respect and honor.
The greatest manifestation of endurance is one that suffers for the sake of one’s enemies. First Corinthians 4:12 reminds us what we do in persecution: “Persecuted, we endure.” Endurance is what we do. While it is true we endure for our personal dignity, for our families’ honor, and for the good of the organization we represent, it is most true that we endure for the glory of God. We make God look good when we suffer well. We adorn the gospel when we endure for the truth. God’s gospel is most beautified when we endure for the sake of our enemies.These selected excerpts where taken from the Live Dead Joy: 365 Days of Living and Dying with Jesus devotional, published by My Healthy Church.