I’ve just started reading the book Hearts of Fire from The Voice of the Martyrs. This book tells the personal stories of eight persecuted Christian women and what their faith cost them. The stories are difficult to read. These are real women trying to be true to their faith in places where being identified as a Christian can lead to torture and death. The women’s courage and strength are remarkable.
Here in the USA, we are only beginning to feel the first nibbles of persecution and the loss of religious freedoms, while in other areas of the world people’s lives are being devoured.
These true stories and others like them have happened throughout history. Realizing they are still occurring made me confront two questions:
- How would I respond if given the options of denying my faith or watching my family die, and
- Why does God allow those who love Him the most to endure such pain and abuse?
I’m afraid I can’t be certain of my own reaction to such a situation until I’m living it. I would hope to remain faithful, keeping in mind the transience of this world and the eternity of the next, but unless I’m tested, I can’t be sure.
The second question seemed even more unknowable, until I remembered to look at it, too, from the eternal perspective and review those things I know to be true:
- God is.
- God is good.
- God is just.
- God loves His children.
- For those who love God, all things work together for our spiritual good and God’s glory.
- God has a plan and we are all part of it.
It is keeping truths like these in their hearts that gives these brave women their hearts of fire for Christ.
Faith, untested, can grow lukewarm and weak. Those of us blessed with the luxury of taking our freedom to worship for granted might do well to start flexing our spiritual muscles by seeking out opportunities to stand strong for our faith. In that way, we may learn to remain steadfast when more onerous tests come along.