Summary: I’d like to begin with the example of Richard Wurmbrand. His is a famous struggle against true evil. He was born in Armenia in 1909. He was a minister in Romania during the spread of communism across the globe.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. -2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV
I’d like to begin with the example of Richard Wurmbrand. His is a famous struggle against true evil. He was born in Armenia in 1909. He was a minister in Romania during the spread of communism across the globe. Communism swept through Russia, and into Romania, which was controlled by the Soviet union. Richard Wurmbrand watched as communists took over the churches in his country and begin using those churches to spread communism. He instead preached against communism, and preached the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which the communists despised.
For this Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned. He had to be isolated in solitary confinement because every time they put him in with the general population he would preach the gospel to the other prisoners. They offered to release him many times if he would just reject Christ and become a good communist atheist. He refused.
They tortured him to discover the names and locations of the secret underground churches in Romania. In 14 years he gave no names. His imprisonment separated him from his wife and his son. He was left in solitary confinement for a total of 14 years. He never gave up.
Have you been through struggles? Have you been through suffering? Has it made you question your faith? Has it made you wonder if God is really good? Asked the question: If God really loves me why would he let me go through this?
Pastor Wurmbrand recalled in his book “Tortured for Christ” how he had to sit in a straight upright position and listen to the propaganda on the loud speaker “communism is good, communism is good, Christianity is stupid, Christianity is stupid, No one believes it anymore.” On and on and on. And he recalls a time when the walls of the cell seemed to shine like diamonds, and he knew Christ was there with him and he didn’t even know he was in jail anymore, he was so close with Christ.
Pastor Wurmbrand said that he could see no colors, only the gray of the walls and the gray of the jail uniform. He could not see sky, nor sun, nor moon, nor stars, he could see nothing. He forgot that such things existed over the years of time. He saw no women, no children. He heard nothing, for the cells themselves were sound proof. He lived underground, in this jail, harassed and beaten and abused, and left alone, fed perhaps a piece of bread a week. He heard silence.
And one day he prayed to the Lord saying, Lord I have no one, I can see no one, I do not have your word even Lord, I am in silence, I have nothing, I have become nothing, so would you speak to me Lord and talk with me?
And he heard God say in an audible voice a single question: “What is your name?” He didn’t know how to answer. He wasn’t Richard anymore. He wasn’t simply a Christian or a pastor. He paused & replied, “Jesus, I have no name. Allow me to bear your name.” He said that Paul understood this when he wrote, “Not I live, not the old Paul, not the new Paul. The “I” has been abolished. “Not I live, but Christ lives in me.“
What is your name?
What makes us think God owes us a perfect existence? Our suffering is guaranteed. We can expect it. We must endure it. And remember that we are nothing, and Christ is everything.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I live now in the body, I live for the son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.”
I’d like to share about a few experiences in my life where I’ve experienced the grace of God, which enabled me to overcome through suffering.
Let me preface by saying I’ve rarely had the opportunity to suffer for Christ. But I have seen times when God has gotten me through the dark times.
The first one I recall is when I was in jail about 10 years ago. I spent over two weeks in jail detoxing from drugs, shaking, sweating, hallucinating, weeping, unsure of what reality was, in a state of intense confusion. I was having nightmares every night. I was so scared. All I had was a Bible. I wasn’t saved at this point in my life. But I clung to that Bible. I read it day and night. I hugged it to my chest, because I was so scared.