As we wrap up our series on great faith, we cannot overlook the results of such faith—of which are positive and 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. In these scenarios, it’s important to recognize that there is an enemy trying to destroy us as we step out in bold faith. We must be prepared to praise God in every circumstance.
Scripture is full of illustrations on this topic. 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.
“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.
I personally feel that the American Church 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. In remaining silent, we miss what God has for us. We miss the blessings when we are cautious in hopes of avoiding difficulties and discomforts.
Paul is telling us that when we identify with Jesus and suffer loss, it does not mean that we have failed. It actually means 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 loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35)? You may be beat up, persecuted, and even lose your life, but God says to you, “You are a conqueror and worthy.”
It’s hard to believe that being faithfully obedient to Jesus’ commands really gives us all that we long for in our hearts. But that’s our call, and that’s our reward. Whatever the outcome or consequences of our obedience, we know that our hearts are 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 our obedience blesses others, we are to thank God. But when our obedience seems to cost us, we can trust and experience the joy of the Lord as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
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.