” I want to talk to you about an unusual gift,” said the Chinese father to his beautiful, black-haired daughter. She smiled with anticipation. She loved it when her wise father shared special lessons about God. He loved Christ, and everyone who knew him was touched with his kindness and compassion.
He opened a worn Bible and began, “This gift is found in Philippians 1:29. It says, ‘For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.’ Something that is given to us is a ‘gift.’ The two gifts in the verse are belief and suffering. Suffering that results from our belief in God is a precious gift, the value of which will be fully realized only in heaven.”
The daughter smiled. “Thank you, Papa,” she said as she reached up to hug him. “I understand.”
The young girl grew up to be the wife of Pastor Li Dexian, who has been arrested over ten times and nearly beaten to death for his faith. She carries on the work with him, persevering because she learned at a young age that godly suffering is a gift. Pastor Li and his wife have won countless souls to Christ in Communist China, and they continue to work under a constant threat of arrest.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I would give anything for a real father/daughter conversation. I think it just happened. Not in an expected way but I accept the guidance of a dad through any means God uses. And I know that it is a gift and with a heart of joy and thankfulness I accept that gift and the lessons He wishes for me to learn.
Today He reminds me of His Son and the separation from Father that His own Son had to endure…and He reminds me that He did it for me. He reminds me that the gifts of belief and suffering are a packaged deal. Not only are they impossible to separate, each gift also strengthens the other. If I have been given the gift of belief in Christ, I will follow Christ. Following Christ means taking risks, going against what is popular, being misunderstood, and sometimes even enduring physical and/or emotional pain. Belief often leads to suffering. As I experience the same kinds of suffering that Jesus lived, I come to know him in a richer and deeper way. The cycle begins again because suffering strengthens belief. I can’t expect to be able to filter suffering out of this earthly life without reducing my belief in Christ.
Thank you, Abba. I understand.
(I said I would give anything for this conversation. Anything….and yet, this came without strings – a free gift. But how could I not give back my life and all of my love to such a wonderful Father as I have that loves me so.)