Sometimes we are simply besieged. Too many troubles all at once. Enemies too big to defeat alone. We want some sure-fire way to win. Some secret for making it through the darkness.
I know this is where you expect me to say something like “Christianity has all the answers.”
But actually, when it comes to dealing with trouble, Christianity doesn’t have answers.
Not plural answers.
There’s one answer. One secret for survival.
I just heard that answer, that secret, from some believers who live under the constant threat of deadly persecution. These are people who know that as long as they take a stand for Christ, any day could be their last.
That very danger has put them in closer contact with the vital core of their faith. They have found the secret to making it through—whether or not the world would say they “won.”
What’s their secret?
The Secret is Not an Idea
Writing in Open Doors’ Presence magazine, Ronald Boyd-Macmillan described talking with a group of clergy gathered in Lahore, Pakistan. Keep in mind that Lahore is the very city where, not too long before, fifty Christians had been massacred in a park on an Easter Sunday. Boyd-Macmillan said, “These men and women were facing death. Speaking out the gospel could cost them everything. They needed hope in the face of this fearful prospect.”
Where did they find that hope? Where do these people with prices on their heads find the courage to live another day? (And, for us reading this, where can we find it?)
Listen carefully to what he says:
“I really do believe that they have to see clearly the face of Christ, or they are just not going to get through the trial. If Christ is not a personal friend and Lord, there is no anchor.
“You can’t anchor on an idea. It’s got to be Christ.”
It’s Christ. Period.
This makes my heart sing. Like those embattled Christians in Pakistan, I cling to Jesus Christ. Jesus the Person, my “personal friend and Lord.”
How I hope you do, too. I hope you are living each day in relationship with Jesus Christ. What idea, what system of beliefs, can compare with knowing the risen Christ?! We cannot lose sight of this awesome uniqueness of the Christian faith–this relationship with Almighty God.
Our brothers and sisters running the gauntlet of persecution are learning this secret. Are we?
Christians who relate to Christ personally survive. Some survive here in the usual sense, living on, even in the midst of fearful and painful circumstances. Some go through death and survive to live eternally. They make it through because of the Person in whom they have placed their faith.
When we are undergoing the most painful experiences, do we ever cry out, “I believe God is omniscient!” or “Oh, doctrine of justification by faith, save me!”?
No, instead, we sound more like Jesus as He hung on the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We cry out to Someone. We cry out for Someone. Because if Someone isn’t there, we are alone. We need a person, not an ideology.
Beliefs, as things, cannot warm our cold, aching hearts when we are plunged headfirst into pain. It is Christ Himself whose Spirit embraces our spirits with compassion. It is He who will walk beside us through the darkness and on out the other side. It is He, Almighty God, who can ultimately defeat our enemies and bring us through to the other side.
The secret is Christ. It’s not knowing about Him. It’s Him.
Know Him. Know Him now. Never forget what you have in Him.
Then you, too, will survive—and your heart will sing.