ANGELIC STRENGTHENING: THE GARDEN
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
~ Luke 22:43 (NIV)
Today’s devotional comes from a Chinese house church pastor who was arrested and held for three weeks just prior to this talk. He says his experience was going with Christ to the Garden and to the Cross. Today he explains The Garden:
My arrest was totally unexpected. There was no warning. I was teaching a seminar in one of our church groups in northeast China, when in the middle of the afternoon, six policemen burst in and the next thing I knew I was punched in the stomach and lying on the floor. One of the policemen put his foot hard on my neck and I couldn’t move. I was then allowed to get up. Someone rammed me in the kidneys with a baton and I fell again, gasping from the pain. The pain was sharp and severe all the way to the police station, and I couldn’t take anything but the shallowest breaths. It turned out my digestion was ruined for months.
Although it was unexpected, there was a strange way in which I had been prepared for it. The night before, I was praying at midnight for the seminar. I had a list of all the participants, and was praying for each one. The more I prayed, the more discouraged I became. These men and women were too young, or too uneducated, or too wounded. I just felt that they were not good enough to be leaders in our movement. I slumped and sighed and felt very depressed. Also, I was having a bad stomach ache. For weeks my stomach was sore and nausea had been my constant companion.
Then all of a sudden I felt a depression on the sofa, like someone had entered the room and sat down beside me. I opened my eyes. There was no one there, but the depression on the sofa remained. Then I felt a large hand on my back. It was hot and pressed into my lower spine, straightening me up. I felt strong again and my nausea disappeared. Then a soft voice said, “I am strengthening you for the fight. Do not worry about these young people. I am the strength of God, sent by Jesus to look after them and you. I will help you because He loves you.”
That was an angel. I am convinced of that. Just as the Scripture says of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength” (Luke 22:43), so it was for me. Angels appear to give us strength. And so all the time I was being taken to the police station in a cramped van, I was repeating the words of the angel to me, “I will help you because He loves you.”
So I want to make this clear to you all. Whenever you face the challenge of suffering for Christ, you will be angelically strengthened beforehand. You need to keep praying, because that’s when the angel comes. But if you pray, you will be ready, because an angel will be there to strengthen you to bear anything.
RESPONSE: Today I will continue to pray and trust God for His angelic strengthening.
PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your angelic host who come to strengthen in our greatest point of need.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.