“They said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah, this day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth and there is no strength to deliver’” (2 Kings 19:3).
At least some, if not all, can understand the meaning of the above passage. Those who are truly suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ would know what it means to be in a state of distress or being rebuked and even being rejected. When the children of God are diligently seeking to live for Christ, it is not a surprise that sufferings and persecutions befall them; even brethren persecute brethren. Many would ask questions such as, “why is this happening to me” and “am I not living for Christ?” The simplest answer is that “we are children of God and are not of this world.”
We suffer because we want to be righteous; we suffer because we work for Jesus Christ; we suffer because we do not want to die, and this is what those who persecute us do not know. They do not know, because they have not experienced the God that we experienced; they do not know because they work under the administration of their own intentions.
These are the kind of persecutors that Hezekiah faced, people that have not known the Almighty God. While this is the case how else would the suffering be except as a day of distress, rebuke and rejection? When the opposition is very strong, a child of God would surely lack the inner strength to defend himself. It would then be as though children have come to birth, but the woman has no strength to deliver herself from birth pains. If this is our case, what should we do? Our only escape must be in the faith that “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
Dear brethren, if we remember the One who made us, we will have life. This is the life that keeps us in the driver’s seat. It helps us to go through the crooked paths and the narrow ways, because our God becomes our refuge. His eyes will continually be on those who are seeking Him and His righteousness. Even if our enemy is as huge as Goliath, God will give us victory, because we believe in Him.
We are but simple people, though people classify people into various categories. All are made of flesh and blood and all are given a heart and a mind that helps to think and understand. However, it is God’s Word that should shine light in our lives. Who among us are prepared to receive it? His word gives understanding to all that desire Him. He speaks to His children as a mother would to a child. His Word is not as complicated as some would like to make it. For it is written “The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:130). When we realize that we are nothing but simple before God, He then gives us understanding; the understanding to believe completely in Him and the understanding that He has not left us alone.
When God has unfolded His intentions concerning us, we will be able to stand firm in our faith. This leads us to ask God to unfold His works upon us and to give us His helping hand. He then would lead us gently among those who would try to devour us. A true Christian would surely experience this. Many profess to be Christians, but they have not suffered for Him nor did they even rebuild their lives for Him. Only when a man or a woman suffers for the sake of God will he or she be filled again.
There is much pain in suffering, but the result of it is inexpressible joy. Dear friends, God who called us will rebuild our lives that have been shattered for many reasons; He cannot be unfaithful! “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (Jer. 32:15).
Nonetheless, the problem we face is that many people pretend to be righteous. They must either be thinking that God is blind or that they are invincible. When one pretends, it is obvious he is not true, but all the more he cannot speak the righteousness of God. What they do not understand is that God is watching them day and night. In deceit they claim to be Christians or even worse, preach the gospel, and they are not even ashamed of their transgressions. They prefer to suffer in their transgression and make it to be suffering for the sake of Christ. For this reason the godless world is unable to know that Jesus is both Lord and Savior. “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me” (Hos. 6:7).
Most of us have the zeal to perform good works for Christ. At the end of the day, if we are unable to fulfill our zeal it is because we followed our own motives. We follow our motives, because we do not see the depth in suffering for Christ and have not known Him completely. This is what we see in Peter, the disciple of Jesus. Little did he know what he would do to Christ; he rejected Him before the rooster crowed twice. “But Peter kept saying insistently, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all were saying the same thing also” (Mark 14:31).
Dear brethren, do not be deceived thinking that suffering for Christ is effortless; one ought to be prepared by God to suffer for Him! We might think we are ready to suffer for Him or even suffering for Christ at the moment, but unless a man receives the righteousness from Christ, he cannot suffer for Him. One ought to believe that when he puts an end to his old life, Christ can give him the righteousness to suffer for His sake; one ought to believe that Christ can carry him through every suffering. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).
Do you truly believe in Jesus? How far did your belief in Him carry you? Our righteousness is to be seen by the people for our suffering to be true. Mere words will not help us to suffer for Him. At any time and in any place He ought to be glorified in us. Whether it is before the brethren or before the gentiles, He ought to be glorified as long as we live on this earth.
It is necessary for us to suffer for the God who loved us and gave himself for us, if we yearn for salvation; a suffering that is true to the eyes of men and God. This should be our answer to those who persecute us in order to become heirs of righteousness. “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:7).