“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:3-4)
What comes to your mind when you think about what brings you “pure joy”? Surely abuse, torture or discrimination is not at the top of your list! Scripture says when we experience trials or face persecution, we should consider it pure joy because on the other side of the difficulty we will find a faith that perseveres and is “of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.” (1Peter 1:7)
Personally, I know the trials in my own life have resulted in a deeper faith. Though they were difficult to walk through, and in the midst of the darkness it was hard for me to sense God’s plan or presence, I can see now how the Lord turned what the enemy meant for destruction into something good and beautiful. I wanted to share a story with you about some of the recent trials our brothers and sisters in India have endured:
[knowing that it was a heavy cost] Anne* decided to follow Jesus and leave Hinduism. When her mother died, Anne wanted to perform a Christian ceremony at the funeral. The Hindus in the village caught wind of her plan and sent her a message: “If the pastor comes to your house or you [go] to the church then [you and your father] both will be persecuted.”
Her father reported the threat to the police, which only enraged the other villagers. They locked Anne and her father in their house and were only freed when an uncle notified the police. The police freed Anne and her father and told the Hindu attackers not to force her to perform Hindu rituals if she was a Christian.
Believing the matter was solved, Anne invited a pastor to her house to host a prayer meeting. The Hindu villagers, seeing the pastor go to her house, were infuriated that she had ignored their warning. They stormed into the house and dragged the pastor outside, beat him and stripped him naked. The pastor fled to the neighbor’s house for help, where they welcomed him in and cared for his wounds.
Hearing that the pastor was receiving help, the Hindus came to the neighbor’s house and forced everyone outside. They proceeded to beat the neighbor’s family and rape their daughter, leaving her unconscious.
Seeing all this happen, another pastor, Brother James* called the police and guided them to the house where the attack was taking place. He helped the police stop the attack and took care of the wounded. When the police left, the Christians in the village heard the Hindus say, “If anyone comes to see or asks about the persecuted people, beat them severely and tie them to the pole.”
The families have not lodged an official complaint of the latest attack with the police because they are afraid of the retaliation.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they go through this dark and uncertain time. Pray that God would meet them where they are and remind them to “count it all as joy.” May we, when we experience hard times, be spurred on by their example and do the same.
*Names changed for security.