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Preparing For Persecution XIII

 It begins with threats. It escalates from there. Somewhere along the way, you will be offered the option of crying uncle, pulling the chord, and severing ties with Jesus, but know that betraying Jesus will be the cost of your flesh being spared and nothing less. If the enemy can’t compel you to deny Christ, then he’ll settle for destroying your flesh. It’s out of pettiness more than anything because he knows what is written about those who suffer for Christ’s sake and the reward they receive when He returns, but he can’t help himself.

If you’ve ever seen a group of children playing and one petulant child being denied a toy setting about destroying it because if he can’t have it, no one should, you understand the devil’s mindset when it comes to his anger and rage toward those he is unable to bend and break.

I’ve collected enough stories to know that until the moment you’re faced with the idea of having your fingernails yanked out with pliers, sitting on a toasty electric chair, and waiting for the current to zap you senseless, or watching four men strip down to their undershirts in preparation for beating you to a pulp, it’s easy to beat one’s chest and declare how you’re bold and unflinching.

The reality is that no matter how brave an individual might be, it’s God who sustains them through those moments. Otherwise, none would stand, and all would fold. There’s only so much the human form can take before it breaks. No one can hold out indefinitely or endure torture for months and years. Eventually, something snaps, something gives, and the human psyche fractures just to disassociate itself from the pain the body is enduring. This is why you will never see someone who has endured such things boast in themselves or of themselves but rather give all glory to God, for they know who sustained them and carried them through.

Man is inventive. Especially when causing pain to his fellow man. The pain isn’t always physical either because there have been documented instances when someone was able to endure untold physical pain but broke when confronted with psychological torment. One of the cruelest things the Securitate used to do back in the day had nothing to do with beatings or physical torture. They would confine a married pastor, preacher, Bible smuggler, or someone they deemed unsavory in a cell for a week or two, even better if they had children, and every day go into graphic detail about what was being done to them all because the individual in question refused to cooperate.  They could go and save their families. All they had to do was write a few names on a piece of paper or give the location of the next shipment of Bibles.

The psychological weight of that possibly happening to loved ones was enough to get many a soul to betray their brothers and sisters in Christ and name them as co-conspirators. Those who remained strong did so because they trusted that God was protecting their families, their wives, and their children because they were suffering for doing good.

I’m well aware that this is an uncomfortable topic. Every time it’s brought up in a public church setting, there’s always at least one individual who admits that they are afraid of the possibility of having to endure persecution, especially physical torture, and to that, I say, so was every individual who has ever had to go through it.

This isn’t the movies; this is real life, and everyone I’ve talked to who was tortured for the sake of Christ confessed to having the selfsame fear all of us share, but their love for Jesus overrode their momentary fear, and with the aid, help, and comfort of the Holy Spirit, they endured. That perfect love casts out fear has become an overused trope readily found stenciled on pieces of driftwood in your local crafts store for a nominal fee, but in moments such as these, wherein fear threatens to engulf one’s senses, it is that perfect love that keeps the faithful steadfast and determined.

For me, it’s not so much the fear of death but how long it might take for me to die that I find myself dwelling on when contemplating suffering for the faith. The dying part is easy enough. I’ve seen enough people breathing their last to know that it’s as easy as breathing your last. It’s the journey toward that final breath that might get a bit bumpy, but I know that if I falter, He will be there to see me through.

I have done what Peter counseled; I have sanctified the Lord God in my heart, and now all I can do is pray for strength to endure to the end. I can’t control what tomorrow will bring, but I can control how I meet it. Neither can you, but you already know that, so why fret and worry about what you can’t control?

Although we cannot know what we will be called upon to suffer, we can do our utmost to prepare earnestly for the eventuality thereof. Today, I can pray. Today, I can grow in God. Today, I can learn to stand on His promises and sanctify Him in my heart. There is a lot we can do today that we put off until tomorrow because our minds are too busy wondering what tomorrow will bring.

See it for the snare that it is. The weaker you are tomorrow because you have not matured in God today, the easier it will be to shake, intimidate, and scare you.

Peter and John, along with the early church, did not squander their time of relative peace. They didn’t take it for granted that they were loved by the people because they cared for the widows and the poor, but they came together daily in prayer and fellowship, knowing that it was a momentary respite. They knew it was momentary because they believed Jesus when He’d warned that eventually, they would be hated, maligned, scourged, and put to death.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 19 April 2024 | 11:16 am

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