Yesterday we participated in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. In the literature preparing for this day of prayer from Voice of the Martyrs, Todd Nettleton was quoted as saying “Our persecuted family is not asking us to pray that the persecution will stop. They’re asking us to pray that they will remain faithful to Christ in spite of the persecution and pressure they face.” Around the world, brothers and sisters in Christ are facing unspeakable difficulty and attacks as they serve Jesus. Our role is not to feel sorry for them and offer pity, but to join with them in the battle through prayer, faith, love and by facing our own difficulties with courage and trust. The reality is that we are all in the same battle against the same enemy. In Ephesians 6 Paul made it very clear that we are all in a war, but that war is not with people, governments or physical things, we are in a war against the enemy of our souls, we are in a battle of eternal proportions with eternal beings.

I believe that great power is gained when we begin to change our thinking and realize that my problems or difficulties are not simply mine to deal with. I am a part of the Body of Christ, one Body with many members. My battles are corporate, I am not to live my life in isolation or selfishness, I must see that all of my struggle is the same as that of my brothers and sisters and we overcome the enemy of our souls when we join together, believe together, pray together and stand together.

In II Corinthians 12, Paul shares that he has been suffering from an attack of Satan. The attack was so strong and so difficult that he asked God to remove it three times. God’s response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” For too long we have read this passage and immediately thought that God’s simple, almost cold answer to Paul was “no.” But God never said no, His response was that He had already provided Paul with everything that He needed. It was not a judgemental response that said that Paul needed to try harder with the tools he was already given, it was a response of love and compassion that assured Paul that nothing would overtake him because he was not lacking anything that he needed. Many of us struggle today with many different things and our prayers are similar to Paul’s, we are asking God to remove, change or deliver us from something difficult. At the same time, I believe that many of us are receiving the same answer that Paul got, “My grace is sufficient.” When God speaks we must hear Him. When God speaks we must trust Him. When God speaks we must obey Him. God said that this weakness that Paul was experiencing was going to give God the opportunity to build perfect strength in Paul. Your weakness may be doing the exact same thing.

Praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters yesterday it became abundantly clear that their difficulty is leading them nearer to God and not farther from Him. As we prayed there was an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and I don’t believe it was because of our prayers, I believe we were finding a small portion of what they experience each moment of each day. In reference to John 15:1-2, Pastor Gerald Boerger wrote, “The Gardener is never nearer the branches than when He is pruning them.” God is close to the broken hearted and I am convinced that He is near to us when we struggle. God did not attack Paul, Satan did, but God, in His greatness was even able to use that attack to build something perfectly strong in Paul’s life. God is not attacking our brothers and sisters, Satan is, but God is using those attacks to build a faith, a love and a devotion that is beyond anything anyone could produce on their own. I don’t believe that God is attacking you today. Our temptation, our difficulty, our struggles are all fall out from the battle for our souls. We are in a war against an enemy that only comes to rob, kill and destroy. The place of grace that God desires to lead us to today is one in which we realize that God’s infinite love is never absent, His provision is never slow and His grace is sufficient for all of our needs. I would encourage you today, if you are struggling, if life is difficult, trust God, listen to His voice and put all of your hope in His love. Your most difficult seasons may just produce your greatest fruit and your most painful pruning may bring the most joyful harvest of your life. Trust God’s love and rest in the sufficiency of His grace.