No great victory can ever be won without a great battle. The bigger the battle, the bigger the victory. For this very reason, God takes our weaknesses and defeats, and He turns them into victories. The weaker one is in the flesh, the stronger they are with God. The bigger the loss in the natural, the greater the victory in the Spirit.
One of the stories that captivated the world in recent years is famously known as “The Bali 9”. The Bali 9 were nine young men from Australia who in 2005 were arrested in Indonesia on drugs charges. Two of those young men who were identified as the ringleaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to die by firing squad. The sentence was duly carried out in 2015 in the face of great international emotion. Many high-profile appeals had been made in and out of court. The Australian government went even so far as to threaten the Indonesian government with sanctions.
It was clear from the testimonies that were given by the other members of the Bali 9 that Andrew and Myuran were brutal, cold-blooded gangsters who would go to any lengths to enforce their will upon others. This made the judges to impose on them the toughest sentence possible: the death sentence. But in the ten years that they were incarcerated, the two young men on death row turned their lives around and became such role models that, during their final appeals, even the prison governor came to their defense. He told the judges that it would be “a shame” to execute the two young convicts. But the Indonesian government would not be swayed, and two fine young men lost their lives in the most appalling manner possible. Due to the political situation in the country at the time, the world viewed the senseless execution as a case of a weak government trying to appear tough in the eyes of its people.
As I pointed out, the case of ‘The Bali 9’ garnered great international attention. But in the midst of all the uproar and clamor that attended this incredibly emotional case there was one detail that the world did not have reason to dwell on too much. It was the fact that while in prison, both Andrew Chan and Myuran had converted and given their lives to Jesus. When the duo were transferred to the island fortress where they were to be executed, Andrew carried only his Bible, a symbol of his conviction and faith.
The Bible says,
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Lk. 15:10)
God’s ways are so different from ours. The world wailed and mourned at the execution of these two young men; but heaven rejoiced. Through a long, torturous road – drugs, violence, death – these sinners received the ultimate gift: eternal life.
It goes without saying that these once callous men would never have had a chance of even thinking about heaven. So God made a way, His way. On that early morning of April 2015, Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six other men stood looking into the cold barrels of a dozen guns. As they stood there, they sang “Amazing Grace”. And, in heaven, Jesus stood up to welcome them to His eternal Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul also was fashioned from similar circumstances. Once a brutal enforcer of Judaism, through much suffering God turned him around and he not only obtained eternal life himself, but became an invaluable asset to the Kingdom of God.
We should not fear to suffer for the sake of Christ. It is out of suffering alone that true spiritual victory can be achieved. For this reason, the Apostle Paul did not seek to unchain himself from suffering for the sake of the gospel. He himself wrote:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)
[God Makes A Way]