Wow! I have been blown away by the number of comments that have come our way after sharing some of our story. I’m thankful to a fellow missionary serving in Thailand, Laura Parker at alifeoverseas.com who posted a comment that I made on her blog about suffering and asked her followers to send us some words of encouragement. What a blessing it has been to receive words of encouragement and support from people all over the world, and not only from all over the world, but from all different places in their own walk with God. I have heard from people that have been in similar trials (loss of a child, traumatic experience on the mission field, etc) as well as people who have not known these things personally, but are so fervent in their prayers for those saints who are experiencing such trials. Really, through every comment that has been posted, along with many scripture references for strength and encouragement, I have indeed been strengthened and encouraged.
It reminds me of the verse in 1 Peter that encourages us to resist the enemy “standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Pet. 5:9) No, it does not make the pain any less, but somehow it does make it make a little more sense being reminded that we are not the only ones who have greatly suffered or are greatly suffering. And there is strength in the fellowship of the saints who have known pain and suffering. And somehow in our greatest pain, we have come to know Christ that much more. I would never have chosen this particular path to knowing Jesus more intimately, but this is just how it is.
That reminds me of one of my favorite verses that I have recently (I think) written about. My prayer since first coming to know the Lord at age 19 has been that of Paul’s found in Phillipians 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Wow! That is powerful! Yes, I would always pray that prayer, “Lord, I want to know you!” But I never really focused much on the part about sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings as being the pathway to truly knowing Him. And now I understand that more than ever. And there is a richness of Christ that can be shared among those also who have learned to share in the fellowship of His sufferings. And for that I am very thankful. So, may we encourage one another with the Words of God, the very same words that encouraged the New Testament believers to walk into their martyrdom with hearts full of joy and eager expectation. Yes, may we too be encouraged to walk the path that He has appointed for us. And may we continue to find strength and encouragement among the saints of God who walk this same journey all throughout the world!
Let me end with a most encouraging verse that reminds us of how it all ends: “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen” (1Peter 5:10-11) O how wonderful is the outcome! Let’s press on my brothers and sisters. Surely, it will be worth it all! We have a God of ALL GRACE who has called US to His ETERNAL GLORY in CHRIST. He will RESTORE US. He will MAKE US STRONG, FIRM, and STEADFAST. How awesome is that?