Worthy to suffer

persecution-circo-romanoActs 5:40-41 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

I read these words recently about Adoniram Judson:

This was the unshakable confidence of all three of his wives, Ann (or Nancy), Sarah, and Emily. For example, Ann, who married Judson on February 5, 1812 and left with him on the boat on February 19 at age 23, bore three children to Adoniram. All of them died. The first baby, nameless, was born dead just as they sailed from India to Burma. The second child, Roger Williams Judson, lived 17 months and died. The third, Maria Elizabeth Butterworth Judson, lived to be two, and outlived her mother by six months and then died.

When her second child died, Ann Judson wrote, “Our hearts were bound up with this child; we felt he was our earthly all, our only source of innocent recreation in this heathen land. But God saw it was necessary to remind us of our error, and to strip us of our only little all. O, may it not be vain that he has done it. May we so improve it that he will stay his hand and say ‘It is enough.'” In other words, what sustained this man and his three wives was a rock-solid confidence that God is sovereign and God is good. And all things come from his hand for the good – the incredibly painful good – of his children.

Judson was a Baptist when he entered Burma in 1813, even though he left New England as a Congregationalist. His mind had changed during the 114-day voyage to India and Carey’s colleague, William Ward, baptized Adoniram and Ann Judson in India on September 6, 1812. Today Patrick Johnstone estimates the Myanmar (Burma’s new name) Baptist Convention to be 3,700 congregations with 617,781 members and 1,900,000 affiliates – the fruit of this dead seed.

Adoniram Judson “hated his life in this world” and was a “seed that fell into the ground and died.” In his sufferings “he filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in unreached Burma. Therefore his life bore much fruit and he lives to enjoy it today and forever. He would, no doubt, say: It was worth it.

Many men and women of the past knew God and made an impact for Him because they were willing to suffer for His name’s sake. And to many of them, it was not a great sacrifice. It was a joyful realization that they had been counted worthy to give back in this way to the Lamb Who had given all for them.

In an email conversation with my uncle recently in this context, he made the statement, “I’m tempted to say, ‘Oh God, do it again!'” I am too. But to be honest, I’ve literally come to a point in prayer time where I’m just about to invite the Lord to “touch me” as he did with Job or others if it be His will, only to stop short, knowing what that commitment or invitation might mean. But men of the past were willing to “fall to the ground and die” to their desires, hopes, dreams, preconceived notions, and in many cases, suffer great loss. And it was once this took place in their life, that the fruit of their lives multiplied exponentially.

My prayer this morning is that I’d be willing to do whatever it is He’d ask me to do for His sake. No sacrifice can be to great. No loss can be too much. For if the Father gave His only begotten Son for my sake, I can give my life – with it’s desires, dreams, and things of this life, for Him.

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