Bible Study: Standing firm amid suffering
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
Bible Passage: 1 Peter 5:5-11
Discussion Question: When has a destination been well worth the journey?
Food for Thought by Michael Catt:
C. S. Lewis lived through two world wars and understood all too well the grief of that season. Many were suffering greatly across his homeland of Great Britain. Additionally, Lewis mourned the death of his wife Joy, who passed away after an illness during their brief marriage. Yet the sufferings and setbacks that dotted Lewis' life only seemed to fuel his writings.
For example, in one of his greatest accomplishments, "Mere Christianity," Lewis wrote: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. ... I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death."
Because Christians have been given eternal life in the coming kingdom of God, we have hope. The trials of this life will one day give way to a life of eternal joy and peace.
It's interesting that Peter brought attention to the similar suffering of believers around the world, even as he sought to bolster the resolve of his readers. How could they resist the devil and stand firm? They could fight in the understanding that they're not alone and that fellow believers were experiencing -- and resisting -- the same temptation and suffering.
The same is true for us today. When faced with persecution or trials or difficult days, we need to be reminded that we are not alone; other members of the body of Christ are experiencing even more severe sufferings around the world. Do a quick internet search on the persecuted church, and you will quickly be brought to a sobering realization of what believers in other parts of the world face on a daily basis.
Every month, on average:
-- 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons.
-- 105 churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked.
-- 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned.
As we become aware of the persecuted church around the world, let's turn that knowledge into prayer. Let's pray for the persecuted church around the world. Don't allow their stories to merely stir our emotions, but let them push us to action through our intercession.
We may not all see the kind of tragedy and pain that Lewis experienced in his life, but different types of suffering will certainly come. If we'll keep our eyes focused on our future hope, we'll glorify God in the here and now.
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