Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will we give up or grow?

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a devotional book that includes 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus.

Day 17
Sudan: Sudanese Boys

“Say it with us!” the soldiers screamed, kicking and punching the boys’ faces and abdomens. “Allah is God, and Mohammed is his prophet. Say it!”

The four young Sudanese boys cried and screamed out for their mothers, but they refused to repeat the words that would mean saving their live yet renouncing their Christianity. Their red blood began to flow across their black skin, but they would not give up their faith in Christ.

The older teenage boys looked on in horror. They had seen their Southern Sudanese families murdered by sword-wielding Islamic fighters. Now they watched as their four young friends and relatives—the youngest only five years old—were beaten to death.

Already the soldiers had forced each older boy to lie over hot coals and ordered them to repeat the Muslim creed and join the Islamic faith. None of the boys would say the words despite the excruciating pain.

There were 14 boys and 13 girls abducted in the raid that day. The girls have never been located and were likely sold as slaves or concubines in Northern Sudan. All of the boys were tortured, but none relented. The next night, the older boys escaped, bearing the scars of the previous nights. Not one renounced his faith.

Pain often plays an important purpose in God’s plan. Unfortunately, there is no other experience that equals its ability to grasp and focus our attention. Physical pain from a long-standing illness or sudden injury gets the whole attention of the human body. The brain sends signals throughout the nervous system to focus the body’s resources on the source of trouble. In the same way, emotional pain is difficult to ignore as well. The anguish of losing someone we love to cruel circumstances like cancer or disease, persecution or injustice can be nearly overwhelming. Whatever situation introduces us to pain, we have two options for dealing with it. We can give up. Or, we can grow. Those who experience pain can be unique ministers of God’s grace. Like an athlete in training whose muscles must be broken down through strain and exercise in order to get stronger, pain is our pathway to new growth.

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” 1 Peter 4:16 NKJV

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