All biblical writers, including the giants of the faith, went through hardships. Look at the experience of Joseph, one of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. His entire life was in shambles until the triumphal reunion with his family many years later. He was hated by his brothers, who considered killing him before deciding to sell him as a slave. While in Egypt, he was imprisoned, falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife, and threatened with execution. There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what He was doing through those many years of heartache, or how the pieces would eventually fit together. He was expected, like you and me, to live out his days one at a time in something less than complete understanding. What pleased God was Joseph’s faithfulness when nothing seemed to make sense.
Consider the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 17. In the third verse we learn that God told him to “leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you.” That was good news because of the great drought in the land at that time. At least he would not die of thirst. But then we read in vs 7, “sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.” What a strange thing to happen! Do you suppose Elijah was thinking, “You sent me here, Lord, and promised me food and water. So why did You let the brook run dry?” Good question. Has the source of God’s blessings in your life ever run dry?
Early Christian Leaders
Let’s zip over to the New Testament and look at the disciples and other early Christian Leaders.
John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said there was no greater man born of woman, found himself in Herold’s stinking dungeon. There an evil woman named Herodias had him beheaded in revenge because he had condemned her immoral conduct. There is no record in scripture that an angel visited John’s cell to explain the meaning of his persecution. This great godly man, who was the designated forerunner to Jesus, went through the same confusing experiences we do day in day out. It is however comforting to know that John responded in a very human way by sending a secret message to Jesus asking “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matt 11:3. Have you ever felt like asking that or similar question?
The second half of Hebrews chapter 11 describes some of those who suffered for the name of Christ. Hebrews 11:35-39. Commit the last verse into mind, let it be your comfort. Note that these saints lived in anticipation of a promise that had not been fulfilled by the time of their deaths. A full explanation never came. They had only their faith to hold them steady in their time of persecution. The Life Application Bible Community says “these verses summarize the lives of other great men and women of faith. Some experienced outstanding victories, even over the threat if death. But others were severely mistreated, tortured and even killed horribly. Having a steadfast faith in God does not guarantee a happy, carefree life. On the contrary, our faith almost guarantees us some form if abuse form the world. While we are on earth, we may never see the purpose of our suffering. But we know that God will keep His promises to us.”
to be continued.. .. .. ..