On the verge of marijuana legalization, and on the heels of Trinity Western University's lost attempt at a law school, Canadian Christians are trying to best navigate an ever-changing country. In doing so, it might be worth reconsidering what it means to face trials and tribulations.
It has now been two years since US Pastor Andrew Brunson was detained in Turkey. Brunson, who had been ministering in Turkey for two decades, was linked to a Turkish Muslim cleric. Only today have news reports circulated that the American preacher should be released in the coming days after lengthy dialogue between Turkey and USA.
Clearly there was a lack of clarity on Brunson's motives in Turkey by its government officials. Whether the detention was because of the faith he professes or not, it puts into perspective the small costs we typically pay to follow Jesus in Canada.
During the first century, apostles of the early church had gained a reputation for healing the sick. However, their success disgusted the ruling authority of Israel (Acts 5:17). As a result, the high priest and his associates arrested all of the apostles and put them in jail (Acts 5:18). Once they appeared before the Sanhedrin, Peter boldly responded, "We must obey God rather than human beings" (Acts 5:29).
Peter’s remarks led to the apostles eventually being freed from prison, but only after first being flogged (Acts 5:40). Their exit was then met with a rather surprising reaction. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41).
Despite being liberated from cruel punishment, newfound freedom is not what the apostles were most excited about. Instead they were joyful because they suffered for their faith.
Have you ever had this kind of appreciation upon coming out of bondage?
Persecution usually has a negative connotation. In a lot of ways it’s justified. There are still several people in the world who are being oppressed by a government dictator, a parent, or even by a disease.
Recently, a neighbour of mine finally won a hard-fought battle with cancer. His response to what he endured was startling. He said he would do it again. He would go back and face the same life-threatening disease all over. You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy. So why would this man wish it on himself a second time?
He saw this as a way to glorify God and to be counted worthy of the Name. He would welcome cancer back because it gave him the opportunity to proclaim Christ, to grow in faith even in the worst conditions, and to be a signpost for Jesus' healing power. Next time you face hardship, first consider on whose behalf you're facing it.