Many of my friends refuse to believe in a God who allows pain in the world. Many of my Christian friends find it difficult to hear the stories of the persecuted church when it involves a pastor, church leader or church member being arrested, imprisoned and brutally beaten because of his or her faith; perhaps a Christian being beheaded somewhere in the Middle East; maybe a wife or daughter being taken by force from their village or even a whole community weeping and broken following a devastating bomb attack on Easter Sunday in a park in Lahore, Pakistan.
Does God not care about the suffering in the world? Is he unwilling or unable to intervene on behalf of thousands of Christians who simply want to live out their faith, yet endure such terrible persecution because it.
The founder of Voice of the Martyrs and Release International, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who himself was imprisoned for 14 years by Romanian secret police for his faith said this,
‘There are two kinds of love: “love because of” the good and beautiful in a person, and “love in spite of” all that this person does to puzzle and hurt us. Obviously, “love in spite of” is superior. It is the most exquisite jewel to be found in the universe. God loves us in spite of our sins. Jesus loved His torturers in spite of what they did to Him. We can love God not only because of the splendid things that enchant us in the universe, but also in spite of the sufferings we encounter. Without pain in this world, the highest form of love could not exist. This love is worth its price.’*
In this book, we are reminded that the questions of God’s existence and absolute truth are not new. However, as Wurmbrand said, they are critical to both the atheist as well as the Christian. Will the atheist embrace or reject God, and will the Christian live a life that reflects our Creator? In the presence of suffering and the experience of persecution, will we continue loving God with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbour as ourselves?
Love wins. Love kills hate – love in spite of.
‘Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’. (1 Cor 13:7)
Take a few moments to pray for the persecuted church and think about the depth and riches of God’s love as you read 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
*Excerpted from pages 130-131 of Richard Wurmbrand’s Proof of God’s Existence.
*Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, Code: T-00104-OL ‘If our sufferings make it hard to pray we can simply lean on the Cross, close to Christ, resting in Him, and patiently endure our difficulties’ copyright © Radiant Light 2006, http://www.radiantlight.org.uk