BY JAMES ROBERTS
In 1970, there lived an 18 year-old soldier in the Soviet army by the name of Ivan Moiseyev. Ivan was a Christian under a government that was committed to atheism. The Russian government actively persecuted Christians and when Ivan’s superiors found that he was a Christian who would not disavow his faith, they determined to break him.
First, he was made to stand outside in the sub-zero, Russian winter, clad only in his summer uniform – from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. Miraculously, he was not frozen. Nor did he freeze on the next 12 nights as he was subjected to the same treatment. He never begged for mercy instead he kept praying and witnessing to his comrades about Jesus Christ.
This having failed, he was put into a refrigerated room. Later, he was fitted with a special pressurized suit that, when the pressure was applied, so collapsed his lungs that he could barely breathe. Still he would not renounce his faith. After nearly two years of such torture, he was beaten, stabbed six times around the heart, and then drowned. His commander, Colonel Malsin, made this final statement about him, “Moiseyev died with difficulty. He fought with death, but he died as a Christian.”
In his last letter to his parents, Ivan wrote,
“My Dear Parents;
The Lord has shown the way to me… and I have decided to follow it….I will now have more severe and bigger battles than I have had till now. But I do not fear them. He goes before me. Do not grieve for
me, my dear parents. It is because I love Jesus more than myself. I listen to Him, though my body does fear somewhat or does not wish to go through everything. I do this because I do not value my life as much as
I value Him. And I will not await my own will, but will follow as the Lord leads. He says ‘Go,’ and I go…”
In the United States, we define suffering for Christ as “rejection” or “ridicule,” but in many parts of the world it is very realistically “torture” and “martyrdom. ” In our insulated America, we can hardly
conceive what suffering for Christ might mean. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there are probably somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 Christians martyred each year worldwide. That would mean that in every six or seven years one million Christians die for their love of Jesus Christ.
In the light of these how much more meaningful Peter’s words become: “don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through… instead, be very glad because these trials will make you partners with
Christ in His suffering….Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian….It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian….So if you are suffering according to God’s will, on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you for He will never fail you. ”
So then, just how s our faith tested?
James is one of my favorite books in the Bible – it seems so practical to me. The first chapter is so fitting to the everyday life of a human being: What to do when your faith and sanity are tested by the trials of life. And tested they are – every day it seems…
Our attitude in general:
When faced with trouble we can choose to view it in a positive light – and we should. We have every right to do so. If God is with us, who can be against us? He has promised that all things work together for good
to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. All these difficulties strengthen our endurance and develop our character – if we accept a positive attitude.
Not knowing what to do in a situation:
The answer is to ask for wisdom from God. Ask and trust and carry on – and the wisdom will come, sometimes in a flash of insight, often so subtly that you hardly realize that God has answered you.
The test of poverty is very common to man:
But God promises to honor the poor who are faithful to Him. We mustn’t let our inability to get ahead in this life hinder us from getting the blessings in the next one.
The test of riches is a test in humility:
To realize that all riches are only a gift from God and that some day they will be taken away and given to another. The danger here is in allowing pride and self-sufficiency to enter in. This is perhaps one of
the hardest tests from a spiritual perspective.
The temptation to blame God when we are hurting:
We all fall into this momentarily when in shock – but as we regain our balance, we must realize that God is on our side not against us. He never tempts us to sin nor does He design evil for us He wants to deliver us from evil.
The temptation to rationalize our sins and weaknesses:
We think they are not all that needful to correct. This is the test of obedience. If God’s Word and Spirit say to do something, then we must do it. If He says don’t do something, we must stop doing it.
The test of compassion:
This involves both our tongue and our deeds. With our tongue we can either kill or heal. It is also so with our deeds. By withholding needed aid, we can kill and by giving that aid, we can heal.
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God blesses those who patiently and obediently endure testing and eventually rewards them with a crown of life! Your hardest trial may bring about your biggest and best blessing!
Editor’s Note: Bro. James Roberts pastors the United Pentecostal Church in Westland, Michigan. They are close neighbors and good friends of Pastor Grisham and New Life.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY APOSTOLIC WRITERS’ DIGEST, AUGUST 2002, PAGES 5, 6. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.