There are two sides of the Christian’s fate with regards to persecution (i.e. tribulation or trial). Anyone who endeavors to be true to principle will surely face one of these. The Bible has already admonished us to be faithful till death, and that we should not count it strange when we suffer as if some strange thing happened to us, but should rejoice because great is our reward in heaven. It is a plain biblical teaching that all who follow the Lord Jesus will suffer persecution. (Phil 1:29, 2Tim 3:12, 1Pet 4:12,13 Acts 14:22, 1thess 3:3). Let us now consider these two fates.
In the Christian’s suffering, there is one side which is to the human eye a misfortune. In this kind of fate, the person involved goes through some humanly unfortunate or undesirable situations, and unsupported might be led to think God has forsaken him/her. Here, all things work evil against that person till he/she finally goes to the grave. God seems to be silent in the situation and there is the possibility to doubt God’s goodness and whether He cares or not. A thick cloud of darkness gathers round you, and often you don’t see the face of God. Darkness seems to veil the face of the most loving Potentate and it seems you are left alone.
The agony of God’s silence in your situation breaks your heart, till finally you are discouraged. In situations like these, there is a need to trust God’s providence, to count one’s blessings, to engage in constant and diligent study and meditation upon His words and claiming of His promises to be able to endure and be faithful till death. It is not easy, yet strength will come from above if you will continue to trust Him.
Ellen G. White says that “at times a deep sense of our unworthiness will send a thrill of terror through the soul, but this is no evidence that God has changed towards us, or we toward God. No effort should be made to rein the mind up to a certain intensity of emotion. We may not feel today the peace and joy which we felt yesterday; but we should by faith grasp the hand of Christ, and trust Him as fully in the darkness as in the light” (The Sanctified Life 90).
Let’s consider some biblical examples of those who faced the “misfortune fate”. First of all we will consider Uriah (2 Sam. 11), the man whose wife David took and for which he killed him. We may not easily identify with him, yet he was a faithful man in his own sphere. He had a regard for God’s ark and the reputation of God’s people. When David, in an attempt to cover his sin, proposed a convenient life to him, he decided to be faithful by not going home to his wife. Like us, he could have rejoiced for the royal privilege and gone home without knowing the king’s true intent. Like most of us, he could have considered it to be a scholarship from the king, and seen in that offer an opportunity to rise high.
Yet he decided to be faithful to God. After all his faithfulness, his death sentence was handed to him. Yet God kept silent and watched him go through the painful ordeal of being at the hottest point of the battle alone, finally meeting his tragic death. Did God care about him? The answer is yes. He was alive and watching, yet His thoughts are not ours and so He allowed it to happen.
We can also talk of John the Baptist, who after preparing the way for the Messiah only heard His working miracles, though not for him. His disciples were always bringing tidings of the success of Jesus’ work to him. He who had earlier on declared the Savior as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, was now in doubt as to whether He was the one to come or not. He began to think like all who go through this ordeal of fate, “Why if this new teacher was the Messiah, He did nothing to effect John’s release? How could He permit His faithful herald to be deprived of liberty and perhaps of life?” (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, 214)
At last John sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether He was the Messiah to come, or they should expect another one. Jesus’ answer was one which unaided would bring more doubt to John. He said, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”(King James Bible, Matt. 11:4-6).
Had it not been that John had a fair knowledge of the Scriptures, he would have had more cause to doubt, wondering why a miracle wasn’t being worked for him to escape. Yet because he understood Jesus’ words in the light of the prophecy of Isaiah: “He yielded himself to God for life or for death, as should best serve the interests of the cause he loved” (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, 218). In all this, he still was not freed from prison, but lost his life instead (Matt. 14:1-10; Luk. 9:9).
Unlike the fate discussed above, there are those who lived faithfully and suffered for the sake of the gospel, but whose earthly end was glorious and their heavenly reward as well. Though they went through a tough ordeal, they finally came out “victorious”. Examples include Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and many others.
Because this category seems to dominate, most Christians have forgotten the one discussed before. Most of us come to God with the expectation that we are going to suffer for Christ’s sake, and that God will work out a miracle and relieve us from the suffering. It is true that God said, “Them that honour me I will honour,” (King James Bible, 1 Sam. 2:30). But how and when He will honor us is not our business, but His. This can lead many to give up their faith after thinking God has failed them when their expectations are not met. The fact of the matter is that, people who experience this kind of fate are mostly uncertain of their fate. Thus they endure hardship like any other Christian, with no vivid assurance of earthly rescue or glorification until God comes to their rescue.
1. There is suffering in both fates and the magnitude and length is not known to anyone but God.
2. Both fates are temporal; whether to death or earthly rescue. (Mat 10:28, Mat 24:29-31)
3. Both fates draw us to the glorious hope. (Mat 24: 29-31, Luke 21:28)
4. It is God who decides the kind of fate a person will face. ( 1 Sam. 2:6-8)
5. Since it is God who decides, we must be ready to face any outcome, especially the one that has no earthly rescue. ( 1 :Pet 4:12,13)
6. Many have experienced and are experiencing these fates, even now.
7. There is the probability that one will experience both fates with respect to different aspects of life in his or her lifetime.
8. Those who are faithful till death will see God’s intervention either here on earth or in heaven. Rev 2:10