As we continue to explore what great faith looks like, we cannot overlook the results of such faith—some of which are positive, but some of which are painful and difficult.
It’s not easy to praise God and thank Him for His presence and love when we take the risk of obedience and bad things happen to us. But it’s important to recognize that there is an enemy trying to take us out as we step out in bold faith and to be prepared to praise God in every circumstance.
Scripture speaks on this topic. For example, in Romans 8, Paul makes a list of painful things that happen to Christians as a result of making decisions based on their trust in Christ’s love for them.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'” –Romans 8:35-36
This passage shows us the possible circumstances we could find ourselves in when we obey the Lord and act as His witnesses.
Yet, I personally feel that the Church in America is retreating because of these discomforts. We don’t want to be rejected or labeled as “one of those Christians.” So we don’t speak, and we miss what God would have for us. Then we miss the blessings along with the bad things.
Paul is telling us that when we step out and identify with Jesus and then suffer some kind of loss, it does not mean that we have failed but just the opposite. When Paul continues in Romans 8, he shares with us just how powerful the love of Christ is—the love that we are called to share boldly with others.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." –Romans 8:37-39
Do you believe that? Do you believe what Jesus promised when He said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)”? You may be beaten up, persecuted, and may even lose your life, but God says you are a conqueror and worthy.
It’s hard to believe sometimes that being faithfully obedient to Jesus’ commands really gives me all that I long for in my heart. But that’s our call, and that’s our reward. Whatever the physical outcome of our obedience or the consequences that occur, we can know that our hearts will be full in the Lord.
No matter what we gain or lose, succeed in or fail at, His promise is true.
"'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived'—the things God has prepared for those who love him ... .” -1 Corinthians 2:9
And it’s not all bad. Sometimes there will be success as a result of our obedience. Just look at Hebrews 11, which is full of stories of those who took risks in faith.
"And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised ... ." –Hebrews 11:32-33a
It doesn’t matter what circumstances we find ourselves in when we obey as long as we obey. Scripture is clear that when my obedience seems to bless others, I am to thank God. But when my obedience seems to cost me, the joy of the Lord will be my strength.
John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.