SUFFERING CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH OF OTHERS
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
—Philippians 1:14 (NIV)
A pastor imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea recently wrote to his wife:
God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four months. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God’s people in the church.
My dear, listen to me—not only as a wife but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children, and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name’s sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace. I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day.
When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts that were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the church and over me. I thought the work of the gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things—even here in prison.
The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, “Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell is [unsaved]. You are very much needed here.” So, on the same day, I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.
My dear, the longer I stay here, the more I love my Savior and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool? Well, isn’t that what the Apostle Paul said, “Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ’s!”
My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the gospel.
RESPONSE: Today I will live in the awareness that God is in control of all that happens in my life. My suffering can contribute to the spiritual strength of others.
PRAYER: Please pray for the wives and families of pastors imprisoned for their faith. Pray that they will be strengthened and an encouragement to others, despite their own pain.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.