In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan says he is writing for those who would rather die before their convictions do (p21), a sentiment that greatly appeals to me – reminding me of Philippians 1:21. Chan challenges Christians to move beyond a lukewarm faith and start giving our best to God rather than offering the leftovers of our lives to our creator.
I read another book over Christmas, about a teenager with deep devotion to God. The book is Night by Elie Wiesel, who was 15 when he arrived at Auschwitz. He writes:
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Reading ‘Night’ has rocked my perception of the world and causes me to have grave concerns about the nature of my faith – what would suffering truly do to my faith?
Reading ‘Crazy Love’ deepened my concerns – is my faith real? If it is real, why is there so little fruit?
The excerpt below is from the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. My resolve to live for Christ crumples even when tested in minor ways, I fear what might happen if I really did have to face the testing of my faith to breaking point – it would probably break. This is a miserable thought and fuels my desire to truly be satisfied with Christ and nothing less. But how to become like that?
All you need to do His will and be happy forever
What, then, does Jesus mean, “All these things—all your food and clothing—will be added to you when you seek the kingdom of God first”? He means the same thing he meant when he said, “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:16-18). He meant that you will have everything you need to do his will and be eternally and supremely happy in him.
How much food and clothing are necessary? Necessary for what? we must ask. Necessary to be comfortable? No, Jesus did not promise comfort. Necessary to avoid shame? No, Jesus called us to bear shame for his name with joy. Necessary to stay alive? No, he did not promise to spare us death—of any kind. Persecution and plague consume the saints. Christians die on the scaffold, and Christians die of disease. That’s why Paul wrote, “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
What Jesus meant was that our Father in heaven would never let us be tested beyond what we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13). If there is one scrap of bread that you need, as God’s child, in order to keep your faith in the dungeon of starvation, you will have it. God does not promise enough food for comfort or life — he promises enough so that you can trust him and do his will.