When Evil Strikes

Satan, author of evil, is the arch enemy to every Christian.  From the beginning of his own attempt to overthrow God, he has been wreaking havoc in the world and particularly in the lives of Christians.  His schemes have been treacherous; his attempts murderous.

He tried to destroy Jesus at birth when he instigated Herod to order all male babies under 2 to be killed.  He thought he had destroyed Jesus at the cross; instead, Jesus conquered death, rising again, and assuring that all who are in Christ will rise also.  Even as Jesus ascended back to heaven before His resurrection, when He appeared to Mary and the disciples, (Eph.4:8-10, Col.2:15) demons tried to cling on to Him, keeping Him earthbound, desiring to keep Him from presenting Himself at the Mercy Seat of God, as the fulfillment of the perfect sacrifice for mankind, but Jesus shook them off, revealing again His absolute authority over all.

Today, Satan does everything he can to keep anyone from receiving Jesus as their Savior.  Failing that, he does everything he can to keep a Christian from walking close to God, scheming with all manner of wickedness to draw one away from the One called the Lord Jesus.

There are persecutions against Christians around the world.  There have always been persecutions, and until Jesus comes to take us to heaven to be  with Him, there always will be terrible maltreatment.  That fact is not a surprise.  Regarding this, I quote a dear brother, Tim Herbert, founder of Syzygy, a UK based organization giving practical and pastoral support for Christian Missions, who wrote to me this very week concerning the persecution of Christians.  He said:

“The writers of the New Testament letters frequently referred to suffering when they wrote to encourage their flocks. They regularly stressed that it was normal, that we had been warned in advance about it, and that it’s all part of the conflict in which we are on God’s side. Jesus said that the world would hate us because it hated him first (John 15:18ff). We in the west have been mostly insulated by the ‘Christian’ nature of our culture from the normality of suffering which is only too familiar to people in central Asia.

The Apostles’ teaching did not deny the tragedy of their suffering, but placed it into a larger context. We read of Peter and John rejoicing that they had been considered “worthy” of suffering shame after they had been flogged (Acts 5:41)! Paul talks about “momentary light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) and says that the suffering of this life cannot be compared to the glory of the next (Romans 8:18).”

In the west, we do not currently suffer murderous threats on the scale as happens daily in so many other countries.  Nonetheless, there may come times when we are called upon to stand up and be counted.  Let us not forget our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer physical pain, even death, and emotional heartbreak and grief everyday.  Let us hold them up to our Father in prayer, and let us pray for ourselves, that if given opportunity to suffer for Jesus, we, also, would stand and be counted with God’s own courage and joy.

When evil seems to triumph, remember that Jesus has already conquered  everything devilish and wicked.  A time has been promised when Satan will be cast away from us for eternity, and God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Until that time, we can encourage each other with Paul’s words found in Romans 8:18-19 & 31, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are…What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?  If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

When Escape Seems Impossible

In last week’s blog I wrote about Daniel in the lion’s den.  His treatment was unjust.  Daniel was an old man at the time and armed only with the unseen weapon of prayer.  You know the story; Daniel was miraculously kept safe from the lion’s paws.

There are many followers of God throughout the ages who have experienced miracles of deliverance.  However, what about those who have been thrown to the lions and were indeed torn to shreds?  What about Christians who have been burned alive because of their faith?  What about Christians around the world, even today, who are beaten to death, falsely imprisoned, stoned, and beheaded?  There were seemingly no miracles for them.

What about you and me? Perhaps we are not threatened with death, but troubles of this world can make daily living a painful existence.  Why doesn’t God give everyone a miracle of escape, just like He did for Daniel?

I want to encourage you, fellow travelers, when it seems that God is not providing an escape, it only appears that way because of what we see with our eyes rather than what we see with our hearts.  It is a common mistake of Christians to remain focused upon difficulties they are dealing with in their physical worlds.  One can become so fixed on the troubles seen with human eyes and felt with broken hearts, that they fail to see beyond into the unseen world of the spiritual.  You see, while miracles sometimes take place in our physical world to deliver us, they always take place in our spiritual world, where our cries of the heart communes in earnest with Almighty God, thus summoning His assistance.

Daniel looked beyond the physical trial of the lions; he cried for help into the spiritual realm, and there he found all he needed.  You see, even if the lions had devoured him, Daniel would still have been delivered. God Himself would have given him everything he needed to endure with peace.  In his heart, Daniel had already escaped his trial.  He abandoned the fear of his physical world the moment he entered into the spiritual dwelling place of God.  Where God resides there is no more pain, fear fades into peace, and troubles of this world cannot enter.

In times of personal trouble, I often remind myself of the old hymn writers.  Their lives encourage me to press on just as they did.  They knew how to focus upon God in the spiritual realm, leaving the troubles of this world in proper perspective. Here are a few of my favorites:

Thomas Dorsey wrote, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” after his wife and son died during the son’s birth.

William Cowper wrote, “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood,” in the midst of frequent bouts with deep depression.  He attempted suicide more than once.

Major Daniel Whittle wrote, “Showers of Blessings,” after losing his leg in a Civil War battle.

Catherine Hankey wrote, “I Love To Tell The Story,” while bedridden from serious illness.

Annie Johnson Flint wrote, “He Giveth More Grace,” while suffering crippling arthritis.

George Matheson wrote “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” while remaining blind for all of his life.

None of the above were defeated in their physical circumstances because they were able to look beyond into the spiritual realm.  There they found their help and deliverance.

The Psalmist, David, said it best in Psalm 61: 2-3, “From the ends of the earth,  I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed.  Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.”

Remember, for the Christian, there is no such thing as — no means of escape.  In the inner places of your heart, He always delivers us.