This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Sister Chen (a pillar of God's house in the vast land of China), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
'I tell you the truth,' Jesus replied, 'no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.' (Mark 10:29-30)
The parents of Sister Suk Wan were already in their eighties when their only daughter died. When the news of her death reached the body of Christ in their town, the Christians were deeply touched and decided to take care of these old people. After some time they said: 'We lost our only daughter, but God has given us back so many new spiritual sons and daughters.' Their brotherly love for each other touched many unbelievers.
Suffering is never in vain. The blood of martyr Suk Wan became a seed of the Church--growing stronger, in depth and number.
'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another' (John 13:34-35).
A moment of introspection: Suk Wan, a Chinese woman martyred for her faith in Jesus Christ (story begun in the devotional "Are we willing to die for the Lord?"), had an impact on many, following her death. Her parents were changed, the local church members were changed. Unbelievers were changed. Praise the Lord! What end or purpose did Suk Wan's life and death fulfill? Her suffering was not in vain. Her suffering was not shallow, futile, useless, conceited, prideful or focusing on her appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc. No, Suk Wan gave what she could not keep (Matthew 16:25); her life was in God's hands (Job 12:9-10) , even as ours are. Despite the claims of the author of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 1:2), Suk Wan's life and her death were not vanity. No, Christ walked with her as she stood for Him. Her life had a purpose, a sharp focus.
God redeemed her life and her sacrifice, and thereby blessed many. Suk Wan's parents were astounded by the new (spiritual) sons and daughters who showed them Christian love and care in their loss. The example of these believers was not lost on the unbelieving community, and impacted many such unbelievers for Christ. In this, Suk Wan's witness spread into "the enemy's camp"--and seeds of faith were planted (as asserted by Tertullian, of the early church). As she lived for the Lord, faithfully and courageously, Suk Wan died with faith and courage, and her witness carried Christ's message of redemption beyond the grave--into the hearts of many. Suk Wan lived a coherent life; death was part of her divine equation, as Justin Martyr (martyred 165 AD) asserted in a similar life, "You can kill us, but you cannot do us any real harm." For Suk Wan, as for Justin, their lives still shone--because of a life lived for Christ in these Christians, the body of believers grew stronger, in depth and number.
For each of us, Suk Wan gave a vivid example of an authentic, coherent life. She served the Lord faithfully and courageously. She died with the words, "To God be the glory. Jesus is my Lord." We would do well, to see in her life more than an instance serving for illustration, but perhaps rather as a model of something to imitate. Just as Jesus left us an example of life to follow (e.g., Romans 15:1-8; John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 2:21), the disciples likewise urged their charges to imitate them (Philippian 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Timothy 1:16) and even the prophets of the Old Testament provided patterns of suffering and patience (Matthew 5:12; James 5:10; Hebrews 11:32-38).
Shall we live a life that ultimately will be said to have been "not in vain", that carries forth Jesus' purpose--or, in the words of Henry Thoreau, will we continue to lead lives of quiet desperation? Shall we be a living witness to the Lord of life and His love (John 13:34-35)? In this, we show that we are His. The apostle Paul told the church members in Rome, that whether we live to the Lord or we die to the Lord, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8). May we keep our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2); if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we find ourselves energized and courageous (Hebrews 12:3) in our service for Him. Suk Wan was faithful and courageous, and energetic in her service for the Lord. And her life mattered to many; in her death, her work for the Lord continued, and mattered to more. May our lives bear such significance, that in our parting from this orb, our work for the Lord might likewise continue.