Devotional Thoughts for the Week of May 19, 2013 – Which Road Have You Chosen?
I am reading a book about Sabina Wurmbrand, a Romanian Jewish Christian. After the second world war ended, she and her husband Richard were arrested separately for secret Christian activities. She describes years in deplorable conditions in an overcrowded dungeon/prison and in work camps. She is just one of hundreds of thousands of faithful believers through the ages who have suffered atrocities we cannot imagine. Pastor Bihm from Nepal is another who has lived such a life. Reading both stories in the same week has me once again pondering God’s perspective and the things He allows to happen to His people.
Somehow, modern day American Christians have come to expect that a life honoring to God and a life of comfort go together. There is absolutely no Scriptural basis for this expectation. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Throughout Scripture men and women who were devoted to God were called to suffer. Abraham and Sarah not only left behind their entire families, but also suffered decades of unfulfilled dreams. Their great grandson Joseph spent years as a slave and a prisoner in a foreign land (Genesis 39, 40). His descendants were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. During that time they cried out to God, but He did not answer or send deliverance until the days of Moses. The Old Testament prophets were beaten, imprisoned, and killed for declaring God’s messages to those who claimed to be His people. Many of the first century apostles were martyred for preaching salvation through Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer tells us that “Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:35b-38). I have no doubt that these people longed for an easier, less painful life. They were as human as we are. They chose, however, to make honoring God’s Name a higher priority than comfort and safety – not only for themselves but for their families.
What does that mean for us? Some among us have been called to live in poverty, or to suffer painful physical ailments and disabilities. Some are living with unfulfilled dreams or broken family relationships. The primary issue is not what struggles you have been called to face. The issue is whether you are bringing glory to God as you walk the difficult road. Scripture teaches us to expect trouble and persecution (Matt. 24:9, Mark 13:9-13). That means we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. What if a life that honors God, and a life of comfort are two separate roads? What if those roads lie in opposite directions? What if I have to choose which road to follow? Here is the kicker: Each of us has already chosen which road to follow. Your life may seem easier or harder than the lives of people around you. That is not the issue (although our enemy tries to make it the issue). Far more important than your current circumstances is your focus. In the midst of whatever you are facing today, is your goal/your focus/your priority to move toward your own comfort or is it to bring glory to God? Many American Christians, even some of us, have bought the lie that we can have both. We cannot. We must choose to honor God no matter what it costs, or we are choosing to honor ourselves above Him.
I need to do some difficult soul-searching this week. I exhort you to do the same. Let us honestly ask the Holy Spirit to show us which road we have chosen, and whether we are truly living lives that bring glory to God. Let us have the courage to invite Him to take away our comfort if that will bring him honor.
God Bless, Lynn