[I meant to post this article yesterday, Monday, but it got delayed a bit]
32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. Heb. 10:32-39
Yesterday, Sunday, in our tiny fellowship I shared with my fellow congregants about this particular scripture. I reminded them particularly concerning verse 32, that the calling card of the gospel for the early church was trouble, suffering!
The early church began with suffering! But it is not that these people began with suffering and then later on “upgraded” to a life without suffering. No. Indeed the whole gist of Paul’s message in this portion of scripture is to remind them not to put off or to deny the spirit of suffering with which they first received the gospel. Here in the Book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul reminds the Jews of their initial ‘baptism’ into salvation through sufferings, and tells them they should continue in that same spirit of expecting suffering in their lives, for that is where their faith is tested.
I reminded my brethren about their calling also. I challenged them to remember when they first got saved. Did they not experience suffering of some sort? For suffering is the calling card of the gospel. I told them we must continually carry that same expectation and that same heart of perseverance, for in those things our faith is tested.
I felt in my heart that God wanted me to bring this out clearly to them, and to emphasize it. So I did exactly that.
“That”, I told them emphatically, “is our life!”
Later that the evening I was sitting in my 2-roomed house with my son Joe when my daughter gave me a call. Keren studies in college across town from where I live, and since she has to live near the campus, she resides in a student’s hostel situated nearby.
“Daddy, are you home?” she asked.
“Of course I am”, I said. We had just been together a few hours ago.
“Okay, I am coming over”, she said, and quickly disconnected the call.
I was left wondering why she had to come back again, and so late. I sensed trouble.
After about half an hour she knocked on the door and when I opened it, to my horror she was carrying her bags with her. One look at her face, and I knew it was a worst-case scenario. She had probably been expelled from college, I thought desperately.
“Come in”, I said, trembling.
To my relief, it did not have to do with college. She told me she had been expelled from the hostel because I had not cleared a certain balance that I owed the hostel. At least the news was a bit more welcome for me. I had assumed the worst!
But still the situation was a rough one. There had been no notice that this was coming, and it threw everyone into a state of not knowing what to do.
We all sat there for some minutes, each one lost in their own gloomy thoughts. This one really hit us hard. And the sudden-ness of it made it even more difficult to bear.
But soon enough, God’s light began to shine in that room.
“Hey guys”, I said, “remember today’s Word in church?”
“Yes”, they both said.
“Well, the gospel has just knocked on our door. Do we open the door or do we close it?”
I could see the light begin to shine in their hearts.
“Keren”, I said, “there is a couch here big enough for you to sleep in. And you can commute across town every day for the remainder of the semester”.
“Yes, dad” she agreed.
Within minutes the cloud had lifted and the atmosphere suddenly changed. Life began once again in our house, just as we have always known it. Talk of breakthrough!
Actually, within a very short time, I realized that God had turned what threatened to be a major disaster into a blessing. Our family has always been close-knit and we love living together. Keren being here with me and Joe once again just gave added joy to all our lives.
[Below: Some of the brothers in our Singida church. My joy and boasting is that each one of these brothers understands well the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. To me, each one of these brothers is worth more than their own weight in gold!]