When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Reflection: Blossoming of Joy in Adversity :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman
We find examples of joy under persecution and difficulty in Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and many others in scripture. But examples are also blossoming amidst persecution around the world.
Last week, simultaneous, coordinated raids were conducted across a large city. Doors to multiple homes and businesses were forced open. Government agents rushed to arrest as many targets as possible before warnings could go out to others. Many members and elders of a large church organization were taken away to secret locations. As of this writing, none have been released.
It sounds dramatic to Westerners, but in many parts of the world, that’s just a normal Tuesday.
From hiding, before his eventual arrest, one of those elders wrote an encouraging letter of joy to the remaining church members.
Beloved brothers and sisters, do you have joy? Are you rejoicing in the fact that you are suffering with Christ because of this church? Do you know that we are blessed? The Lord is bestowing on us poor people today treasures of glory from heaven! The Lord himself is bestowing on us weak people comfort from heaven! The Lord Jesus is shining on us blind people his great light. Those of us brothers and sisters standing on the front lines of the gospel war will earn great spiritual riches!
Thank the Lord for being with us in this trial. Thank the Lord for cultivating us according to his true Word! Thank the Lord for training us through these days of hardship! Thank the Lord for sculpting us through today’s persecution! May the Lord give us great joy and true hope and make us strong through reliance on him…
May the whole world know that we are joyfully willing to receive this persecution for the sake of our faith.
Beloved brothers and sisters, I am writing this letter in “hiding.” May you all be filled with joy in the gospel of Christ. May you welcome, filled with hope, the even heavier cross and more difficult lives that lie ahead of you. — Li Yingqiang, Elder of Early Rain Covenant Church
Joy is not like happiness. It does not fade with worsening circumstances.
Joy is the necessary fuel that is produced in the midst of, and carries us through, pain.
Joy burns differently and is inextinguishable.
Joy is what Christ saw ahead of him when he looked past the suffering of the cross to the future.
Joy is ours when we also look past our sufferings.
What are we waiting for?
Advent’s path to joy passes through trials, arrests, suffering, and the cross. Let us follow Christ.
Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. — Psalm 71:23
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.
Zechariah 5 (Listen – 1:35)
John 8 (Listen – 7:33)
Read More about Prayer for the Church from Indonesia :: Worldwide
Make us mindful, that others of your Church today
eat the bread in secret, for fear of persecution,
and drink the cup in whispers, for fear of death.
For them, our sisters and brothers, we pray
that your spirit will watch over them with a mighty arm
that your joy may be complete in them
and that their hope in you may be realized in power and grace.
Read More about Jeremiah, the Unpatriotic Prophet
The most patriotic thing Christians can do is see the problems of our nation and speak the gospel to them. Let them throw us in a cistern like Jeremiah. Let them burn our words rather than listen to them. May we be faithful to Christ and his kingdom alone.
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