What questions do you have? I heard this week: -its hard to get answers to questions you don’t have.
One time in my life when I had so many questions is when I came back from 15 months outside of North America. I had questions that rattled my mind about everything. Like why do I have to buy a pack of 4 batteries when I only need 1 battery?
What I’ve been questioning recently- woolly worms! We went to Stone Mountain this past weekend and I saw a posy of woolly worms wiggling across the path. They’re supposed to predict the weather or something? What’s up with that? Is this legit?
But this week I want to highlight a question that I think I find myself suppressing. A few years ago a friend of mine was attending seminary and we were talking through what was going on in her classes. She was telling me about a question one of her professors posed: are you living for something that you would die for?
I want my answer to be yes, Jesus is worth the most and I want my life to depict that. But when pressed, I know I can have the propensity to be like Peter - when questioned, denied Jesus. But I’m thankful Jesus gave Peter grace and other chances because I know I need it.
So I’m thinking about our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and face this question head-on daily and how their powerful testimony sings out their answer. Some friends of ours gave us “the voice of the martys book” a few months ago. Full-disclosure – haven’t cracked it until this week.
As I’ve been reading testimonies of people who remain faithful despite persecution and loss I am moved. It’s as though the strength of their devotion moves the heart of God and jumps off the pages to my heart. A testimony of faithful endurance speaks of eternity, this seemingly foolish devotion speaks of a soul that is truly living for something worth everything.
There is something inside our souls that cannot be stomped out, intimidated, something that no degree of hatred and fear can overpower. It is the very heart of God inside of us, it is our connection to our Jesus, a chord of love that cannot be broken.
I’m provoked to share Cheng Jie’s story. I’ve actually never met her. But she shares some of her story on the voice on the martyrs website. Her story speaks of what she’s living for. Here is some snip-bits of it:
"Cheng Jie — a young mother, a pastor’s wife, and a former kindergarten director — never anticipated her 2014 arrest. With a husband who was a pastor in China where religion is tightly controlled, she and her husband, Du Hongbo, had prepared for his possible arrest, but never hers. In the end, it was her role as the director of the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten that took her to prison for two years. Chinese authorities charged the school and its administration of “illegal business operations,” due to the use of what the authorities called religious curriculum. The school was closed, and four people associated with it, including Cheng Jie, were arrested.
But God provided her with a copy of His Word another way. Another prisoner had one, and she traded it to Cheng Jie for some other items. Despite the long work hours, Cheng read the Bible faithfully every night and found encouragement in God’s Word. She also taught her cellmates songs, hymns, and Bible stories. Her faith and trustworthiness made her stand out to prison authorities. “God is great! It makes me think of Joseph in the Old Testament. After six months, they let me manage all these cells,” she told us. She was also thankful for a good lawyer who advised her on how to address the charges against her. She pled not guilty; if she had said she was guilty, she may have gotten a longer sentence. She said she often felt anxious, but she learned to trust God for each day during her imprisonment.
Another thing that provided encouragement was all the letters she received containing hymns, Bible verses and encouraging notes from VOM readers using Prisoner Alert. As letters poured in from the United States, she thought, “Really, I can’t go through this, but because of the encouragement from all over the world, it makes my faith strong. That is why I can go through my difficulties.”
Though our circumstances and challenges may be different, we are united by God’s presence. And the same question faces us – are we living for something worth dying for? Jesus’ presence with us in the midst of our suffering and trails is what gives us strength to press on. There are many stories of faithful witnesses we can be encouraged from. Lets draw strength from one another’s victories.
You can read the rest of Cheng’s story here: