“For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way – struggles from the outside, fears from within.” 2 Corinthians 7:5
Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. “The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.
This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust. There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God’s school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.
The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor. (Streams in the Desert)
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I did not meet many believers when I journeyed to northern Iraq, but I did have the honor of interacting with individuals who are enduring immense suffering and persecution. I felt inadequate when worshipping years ago with Indian believers who had sacrificed much to identify publicly with Jesus Christ, and I felt the same among the faithful in Iraq. My prayer for persecuted disciples is that God strengthens without hardening; a world of difference lies between firmness and callousness. My prayer for you and me is that when the inevitable crucible comes we find deeply rooted spiritual reserves upon which to call. It is not possible to endure and excel this moment and the next without previously ingrained disciplines that foster a hardy response to the fire. Today is the best opportunity to prepare my heart for what may threaten to crush it tomorrow.