Come & Die

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” Philippians 3:7-9 (ESV)

I’ve touched on the subject of your death previously in numerous ways, but let me expand this point since I just told you that for God to rescue you, you must die.

Most of the time, we are content to live with a partial savior. We think that our problems will largely vanish after we get saved and then we can stand on our own two feet–one and done! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

When you give your life to God, you become born again, and you are rescued from death. Your sins are forgiven, and you are transformed into a new creation. You become a hybrid human being with the Spirit of God living inside of you.

The biggest problem (your separation from God and subsequent condemnation) is solved. But, one problem remains. Even though we are saved, we don’t really know how to live through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are used to depending and relying on our own self-sufficiency and idols.

God begins to work within us to wean us off the world and to teach us to live through and for Him. What is the curriculum in this school?

Pain and suffering!

Don’t get me wrong. The Holy Spirit is always teaching and guiding you, but your spiritual growth will only accelerate in the midst of suffering and pain. This is why the persecuted, who live under intense suffering for their faith, are often spiritual giants!

Shahbaz, Gurunath and the Chinese pastors who served ten to twenty years in prison suffered greatly. However, their “deaths” yielded their greatest growth.

Forced to live off the resources of God, they left the world behind.

In Good Company

The pattern of suffering that emerges in the lives of persecuted Christians also shows up in the lives of the great heroes of the Bible. They also had to earn a degree in pain and suffering from the University of Life before they could be used by God.

Joseph fell from a comfortable existence as the beloved son of a wealthy man to the humiliation of slavery and imprisonment. Moses was driven from a privileged position in the Egyptian court to a humble life as a shepherd in exile. David’s path led him from being son-in-law and favorite of King Saul to being hunted by him in the desert for a decade.

Each man had a vision of his later calling—Joseph dreamed dreams, Moses knew he was to be used by God to free the Jews (Acts 7:24, 25), and David was anointed by Samuel to lead Israel.

Before Joseph could rise to power in Egypt and save his family’s lives, before Moses could lead the Hebrews out of slavery, and before David could become Israel’s king, each had to undergo long periods of suffering.

Each man knew what his profession was but hadn’t yet received an academic degree to prepare him for his calling.

Each man’s education depleted his worldly assets and self-confidence, a process that lasted for decades. Only from a position of exhaustion and dependence could each man be shaped by God for His ultimate purpose.

This phenomenon is also seen in the lives of the persecuted in The Last Words of the Martyrs.

This same process has been played out in my life as well, as I detailed in chapter twenty of the book.

I found myself closest to God in my own deepest suffering. It was then that I grew the most.

This is one of the great secrets of the persecuted.

Fight or Flight No More

As Christians, we must reframe our thinking with regards to the pain and suffering in our lives. As human beings, our gut-reaction to all pain is to fight, pull back, or flee.

Yet, this struggle is the only path to spiritual growth! So, my radical prescription for you is to embrace your pain instead of trying to run from it.

That’s right. I would suggest that you embrace your trial and thank God for it. Tell Him you will stay there as long as He wishes. Ask Him to teach you the lessons that He wants to teach you, letting him grow you into a man or woman after His own heart.

Because in dying, we will find life.

By Jeff King.

Source:  Come & Die – Last Words of the Martyrs

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