For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NIV)
Reg Reimer, a veteran missionary in Vietnam and with the World Evangelical Alliance counters the idea that some people express which glamorizes persecution and conclude it is therefore good. He says that deprivation, cruelty and dehumanization suffered by victims of persecution are NOT good but from the enemy! He writes in the book Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom: Theological Reflections:
In Vietnam, for example, it is well documented that in the past 30 years Christians have been harassed, discriminated against, arrested without cause, starved, beaten, imprisoned, raped, dispossessed and chased from home and fields, and even killed for Christ’s sake. Only the Evil One takes pleasure in inflicting these injustices on those made in the image of God!
In September 2005, a Vietnamese pastor was released from a terrifying 15-month imprisonment. He had been rotated to five different prisons, was sometimes in rooms with 100 criminals and other times in a solitary cell. He had been attacked by prisoners with HIV/AIDS. He confessed to feeling alienated from his family and his church after his release. The feeling worsened. Six months after release he uttered the words, “I only discovered real loneliness when I got out of prison. My colleagues, my own brother and even my wife don’t understand and won’t believe what I tell them.” Persecution is not good!
People much prefer the more positive reports of those who seem to flourish in persecution. It is truly amazing that for many, the persecution they suffer becomes a means of receiving grace! They testify of God’s strengthening presence in the harshest conditions. They report on God’s miraculous provisions in times of extreme need. And so persecution and suffering become an occasion for God’s comfort, often through others.
RESPONSE: Today I will resist the temptation to glamorize persecution and the persecuted. Instead I will pray unceasingly for those being traumatized.
PRAYER: Lord please bring Your comfort to our brothers and sisters who are hurting from persecution today. And bless those who provide much needed trauma counselling for the persecuted church.
1. Christof Sauer and Richard Howell (ed), Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom: Theological Reflections (Johannesburg, SA: AcadSA Publishing, 2010), pp.331-332.