Time For God: May 19

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 3:12
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
In their book Two Tears on the Window, Canadian missionaries Julia and Kevin Garratt recount a true life story. First, they endured being abducted; then they spent 775 days in a Chinese prison. Separated, each prayed that their spouse might remain alive. In this truly intimidating and harrowing persecution they threw themselves upon the mercy of God. They relied on Him alone trusting God not to fail them.

In working to reach Chinese people with the love of Christ they suddenly became unwitting pawns caught in a wider political play-off. China, Canada and the United States engaged in a tit-for-tat high stakes game of espionage and accusations. God’s faithful people became political bargaining chips. Gospel and culture collided.

The Vancouver couple opened a coffee shop in 2008. They situated it in Dan Dong, China, near the border with North Korea. In 2014, China charged them with stealing government secrets. The pair were promptly arrested. Chinese authorities refused to tell Peter, their son, where his parents were being taken. The experience forever changed their lives. Yet, they now speak about it with great grace and some humor.

J.I. Packer writes, There’s a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve him, boldness to share him, and contentment in him. His words might aptly be applied to the Garratt’s situation.

Suffering is central to the human condition. Everyone discovers distress. Sorrow calls out to others for assistance, help, and relief. Yet, followers of Jesus expect additional travail. Discipleship delivers particular challenges as the Holy Spirit sifts a soul. Henri Nouwen describes the Eucharistic life. Like bread in God’s hands, we must first be broken before we can be given as a blessing to others. Yet, faithful are the wounds of a friend; and what a friend we have in Jesus! He is but a prayer away.

God is with us in persecution, notes Gisela Kreglinger (St. Andrews University): With the coming of Christ, the promise of God’s leading and deliverance finds its climax. Not only does God go before us to guide and deliver us, he now dwells with us in the most unlikely way: in Christ, he has become one of us so that we might be one with him.

On your journey of faith, when has God called you to suffer for the Gospel? How have you discovered Him to be fully in your story? Where is He today for you? How might you share that truth with someone who has suffered?
God of the lonely road, You walk beside me every step of the way. Thank You for Your protective presence, Your profound provision, and Your perfect peace. Amen.  
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