Yes you can. You can stand. You not only can stand, but you can overcome. You can rise above the din of your emotions and your circumstances. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus. Even the most horrific suffering can be traversed in the power of Jesus.
Jesus took on flesh. He humbled himself. He threw aside his glory for a little while, to walk the dusty roads, to experience being tired, to experience loss, and to experience pain. He did all this because it was necessary. He loves us. There is no other way to be saved- no other name under heaven by which we may be saved. He made the sacrifice of the cross for us. He completely loves us with his whole being.
He will never leave you- nor forsake you. He lives in you by his Holy Spirit, if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit- God himself seals you. His presence is a seal for your promised inheritance. Your inheritance is more than you can ask or imagine. It is in the Lord.
Suffering reminds us of our brevity. It reminds us that there is more beyond the veil. When our comforts are stripped away and our illusions are exposed to be nothing but a mirage, we see that we are made for eternity. Our hearts tell us we are made for more than this life.
In order to be received in eternity- we must be cleansed of all that separates us from God. Our sin must be removed from us as far as the East is from the West. It must be atoned for. If there was any other way to heaven- why did God send his only son to die? Why did Jesus willingly lay down his life, forgiving the sin that nailed him to the cross? Because in order for God to be holy, he must be just. And all injustice must be made right. Sin cannot enter heaven. We cannot enter heaven with death. Death doesn’t belong in heaven. Sin cannot enter. If it could, it would cease to be heaven.
“Why doesn’t God just remove it then?” you ask. He did. He did it the only way it was possible to be removed. And he did it for love. He loves us so. Turn to the Lord. Turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ. He embraced suffering for you to save you from eternity separated from God in hell. Ask him to forgive you. If you confess your sin, he is faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.
If Jesus did all this for us, what can separate us from his love and his power? Nothing- absolutely nothing can separate us.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified;those he justified, he also glorified.
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
— Romans 8:18-39 The Apostle Paul – persecuted for Christ with floggings, imprisonment, nakedness, hunger, rejection, shipwrecked, exposure to the elements, and beheading for not denying Jesus.
As I was praying about what to write for this final day of our fast, I was moved by this challenging piece written by Corrie Ten Boom that I read on WomenofChristianity.com. I will include the link to the whole article at the bottom of this, but I want you to read what Corrie Ten Boom writes about surviving the Holocaust and persecution for Jesus. She brings a sobering challenge to the modern day church and it’s lack of spiritual preparation for suffering.
“The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.
My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.
We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.
Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said,
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things
and I will be His God,
and he shall be My son.”
This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.
Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick.
“Yes, the Lord will heal me,”, Betsy said with confidence.
She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.
It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy’s death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.
There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.
In China, the Christians were told, ” Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated- raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortued to death. Later, I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,
“We have failed..
We should have made the people strong for persecution,
rather than telling them Jesus would come first.
Tell the people to be strong in times of persecution,
how to stand when the tribulation comes,
to stand and not faint.”
I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.
Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.
When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.
“If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;
for the spirit of the glory and of God resteth upon you;
on their part evil is spoken of,
but on your part He is glorified.”
I Peter 4:14“
I found myself saying, “Hallelujah!
Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!”
In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.
Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.
The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?”
The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.
“When I was a little girl, I said, I went to my father and said,
“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”
“Tell me,” said Father,
“When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket?”
“Three weeks before?”
“No Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”
“That’s is right,” my father said,”and so it is with God’s strength.”
“Our Father in heaven knows when you need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”
“He will supply all you need just in time.”
My African friends were nodding and smiling.
Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing,
” In the sweet, by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”
Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed.
I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.
But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.
How can we get ready for the persecution?
First we need to feed on the Word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.
Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History,
but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive
and sitting at the right hand of God.
We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.
In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other.
But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting.
The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.
Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also.
But then I read the Bible and I am glad.
When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.
“Though He shall slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15
for I know that to all who overcome,
He shall give the crown of life.
– Corrie Ten Boom – 1974
Today, let us pray that the Lord so fills us with his Spirit and his word that we are prepared to shine for him, even in the darkest nights.
Father, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I come before you lifting you up and glorifying you. You are in heaven and I am on earth, yet you see me in my smallness. You love me and you care for me. You are my Abba Father, my daddy. Your love is amazing.
I ask today Father God, that you will bring glory to your name through my life. I pray that you will teach me your ways. Speak to me through your Spirit right now. I am listening to you. I am all in. Fill me with your wisdom and your revelation that I can know you deeply and intimately. I want to love you the way I need to love you. I want to thank you for everything you have given me and everything you are. I want to know you in a way that changes my life and impacts my relationships. Lord, fill me with your power. Stretch out your arm to do mighty works in my life and through my life to bring the gospel to those around me.
I want your kingdom to come and your will to be done on earth, in my life as it is in heaven. Lord, be exalted among the nations! Be exalted on the earth! Be exalted Oh Lord God! Lord, push back the darkness. Bring the light of revival. Pour out your Spirit, oh God. Pour out your Spirit. Exalt Jesus your son. Soften the hearts of those around me to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Tear down the strongholds of Satan in my family, Lord Jesus. Tear down his strongholds in my neighborhood, my town, my county, my state and this nation. Jesus, you said you came to destroy the works of the enemy. Please do it! Please destroy Satan’s strongholds. Shatter the rod of the oppressor.
Build your kingdom and your legacy in my life and my family. Lord, expand your kingdom influence in my life, in Jesus’ name. Bring your redemptive work to our government and our leaders. Lord, save those who are lost. Convict those who are evil and raise up righteous people to serve in every office in government, in Jesus’ name.
Lord God, strengthen me with your power. Strengthen me in my inner being that Christ can live in my heart through faith- at the center of every part of my life. Strengthen me for the road ahead. I rest in the fact that you are there already. You are ahead of me. You hem me in on every side. I can say like King David that you search me and know me. See if there is any anxious way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Bring encouragement to me, Lord. When I look at the world, I want my hope to be in you- not in normal living. I want to draw strength from you in every way. Lord, there may be chaos around me, but there is no need for chaos in me. I claim that you are my Prince of Peace.
I surrender to your will, Lord. I surrender to your plan. I know that you are in control and that you are sovereign in my life. I surrender completely. Take my sin. Take my fear. Take my anxiety. I trust that you love me- no matter what happens in this life. I thank you for preparing a place for me in heaven. I thank you that you will be with me always- even to the end of the age. I love you, Lord God. You are my rock and my redeemer.
I give you all those in my life who do not know you. I ask for you to draw them through Jesus. I pray for salvation and power to come to them through me. I ask that you will bring more people into your kingdom.
I give you my daily needs. I ask that you lead me in how to prepare physically for the times we are living in- not in fear, but in faith- trusting that you will provide for all of my needs according to your riches in glory. Thank you for every time I have suffered in my life and you have sustained me. I thank you for all that you have done in my life through difficult times. I glorify you, Oh Lord!
Lord, I stand against every curse and every attack of Satan on my life. No weapon formed against me shall prosper in the name of Jesus. I rebuke the enemy and command him to leave my family alone in the name of Jesus. I plead the blood of Jesus over my home and my family. Lord, I ask that you keep us from the great delusion that is coming over the world. Keep us in your hands, Oh Lord. Protect us from deception. I rebuke the lies of the enemy and command the enemy to leave in Jesus’ name. I ask Lord that you will deliver us from the evil one. I am bought with the blood of the Lamb. I am forgiven and released from the curse, because Jesus became a curse for me. I stand in Christ, a new creation- the old is gone the new is come.
Praise you Lord God, Almighty. Thank you for commanding your angels concerning me. I praise you. I pray that you give me a kingdom minded attitude. Lord, give me the mind of Christ. Thank you for Jesus. You are worthy! May my life reflect it.
In Jesus’ name- Amen.