Faith in Adversity

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“If Christianity is going to be so difficult, I would rather not continue,” she said.

Makhloi is a widow from the villages of Pucharee. Since she came to know Jesus, she has been a faithful church member and a good disciple. But she has recently been going through some challenging situations.

Several of her late husband’s relatives fell ill one after the other. They concluded that the cause was a curse inflicted by angry spirits because Makhloi is Christian (quite a common reaction in animist culture). The family gathered to force her to abandon her Christian faith so that they would cease suffering. The pressure was very great. They even threatened to physically assault her if she did not stop following Jesus that very moment. “If you continue to be a Christian, you will see what happens to you.”

Makhloi became very discouraged. “I am suffering so much that I prefer not to attend church anymore. If Christianity is going to be so difficult, I would rather not continue,” she said.

We did not see Makhloi at church for a few weeks. But our Christian community continued to visit and pray for her. The widows of our village, who are very close and support each other, never gave up on Makhloi.

After a few weeks, she returned. “I could not stop coming. If I am not a Christian, what am I going to do with my life?”

We praise God for her willpower and for allowing the Holy Spirit to show her the right way. But we must continue to pray for our sister. Because the sense of community is deeply rooted in this culture, she is trying to gather her whole family to talk with them about her faith and why she will not abandon the Way. It could be very hard for her if her children and relatives ultimately abandon and isolate her socially because of this decision.

We wish and pray to God that the family may give a favorable response to her and her faith and that she, in turn, may be a witness to her loved ones.

The lives of Makhloi and others cause us to reflect on how difficult it can be to follow Jesus. But God will not leave us helpless or alone in these decisions. Peter shared with Jesus a similar concern when he said, “We have given up everything to follow you” (Matthew 19:27). Jesus then gave Peter this promise, just as he gives it to us:

“‘Yes,’ Jesus replied, ‘and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-30).

God does not promise that there will be no persecution. On the contrary, there will be. But at the same time, He offers to those who follow Him the gift of a great family of Christians who will support one another and fill the emptiness of the hearts of those who abandoned loved ones to follow Christ.

But not only that. Jesus offers to help us endure that tribulation on earth so we can enjoy the gift of eternal life in heaven, where we will never again suffer the pain of separation.

Blessed hope we have in Jesus. Praise be His name.

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