Just a few days ago, one after the other, Christians were the target of extremists’ terrorism. Over 80 believers perished in Peshawar in Pakistan after two suicide bombers blew themselves up while people were leaving Sunday Mass. In Kenya, a group of gunmen stormed a luxurious mall with guns blazing and killed dozens of shoppers and diners. The armed men were heard as saying that they were going to kill non-Muslims, in other words, they were there to kill Christians. There are also Christians suffering in war-torn Syria and many parts of Africa.
These two recent events are just but a sampling of what Christians in many parts of the planet are enduring. Even in First World America, the Christian faith is under fire but from a different form of persecution. Christians in the USA are being pushed out of the scene through the guise of discrimination and political correctness.
Endurance is a persistent theme in the New Testament. In Matthew 24:13, Jesus talked about those who endure to the end will be saved. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:12, “If we will endure hardship, we will reign with him.” The Apostle James also discuss this theme in James 1:12, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Here in the Philippines, where everything is all so cozy and warm, Christians are enduring but in a very different manner. Christians in the Philippines “endure” the lack of material possessions, the inability to travel to exotic places, or have a nice car and home. They may be enduring a lack of money, sickness or family preventing them from practicing their faith. Of course, a lot of Filipinos are enduring typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, but these are all natural calamities which we cannot predict or prevent.
Endurance, my friends, is a serious matter in the Bible. The holy scriptures has foretold of people, some of them maybe those we love, unable to endure and succumb to the pressures of this world. It is true that there are people who lose their faith in God brought about by the deaths of those they love, or due to sickness or loss of property. But it is not too late to come back to God. He will always receive you back, just like the father of the prodigal son. Let us not lose heart in the face of great challenges and difficulty. Eternity with God is not worth anything in this world, that is why Jesus urges us to endure till the end.
These words may sound so easy compared to other believers living in fear for their lives in parts of the world where they are the minority. And its true, it does sound like a walk in the park. That is why we need to always remember them in prayer, that they may also endure to the end.
Pray for the brothers in Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq among many countries where the Christian faith is under fire. This is one way that we may be in solidarity for those of us who do not suffer much.