The Positive Side of Persecution

Have you watched the movie “Soul Surfer” about Bethany Hamilton? Bethany lost her arm in a shark attack, and thought that she would lose her dream of surfing professionally, but with God’s help and her determination, she continued to surf. People love a true story, and they flocked to hear hers. Who doesn’t want to be encouraged and inspired? Her circumstances placed her in a unique position to share her real God with every onlooker. In the movie, Bethany stated that she wouldn’t change what happened to her because losing her arm had given her the ability to embrace more people.

The apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but he shared with the Philippian church that being in prison had turned into a platform for sharing the gospel with even more people. Not only were people hearing about his imprisonment, but they were seeing him live out his faith in spite of his circumstances. The whole praetorian guard, probably members of the imperial guard who were responsible for guarding Paul during his imprisonment, and many others, heard Paul teach. Those who were saved because of Paul’s imprisonment had even more confidence to boldly preach the gospel themselves. Paul shared that some taught for the right reasons, and some taught for the wrong reasons, but rather than worry about their motives, he rejoiced that Christ was being preached and people were being saved.

If you believe God, you can take comfort in His promise that He works all things together for the good of His faithful servants. When we look for reasons to rejoice, we can usually find the positive side, even when it is in the midst of suffering.

When news of the pandemic broke out and we saw pictures of people in China wearing masks to go out, I thought, “That will never happen here. They won’t make everyone wear masks.” I had some pre-formed feelings about masks. You see, when my husband and I married, I had to wear a mask to go grocery shopping, or any other place where there were many people. I wasn’t a germaphobe. I had Environmental Illness, otherwise known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. My liver function was impaired, and my body had stored up so many chemicals that I was hyper-sensitive. Smelling your fabric softener on the wind from across the park would have made me ill. My mask was a cotton sleeve that had a charcoal filter… a lot different than the handmade masks people have gotten thru stores with the past 3 years.

I hated wearing a mask. I felt like people didn’t see me. Actually, they totally noticed the red head with the mask who sometimes rolled an oxygen tank behind her. But they didn’t see who I was. They couldn’t see my smile. I had to go through training to use nutrition, exercise, and sauna therapy to draw the toxins out of my body. What I learned from doctors was incomplete and not the greatest for my body. Liver and vision damage was a possible hazard of heavy chemical and metal detox. I studied a lot on my own and, after God restored my health, I became a certified natural health practitioner. The process was born out of a drive God gave me to help my own family, but it has opened doors for me to help many other people in wonderful ways I hadn’t imagined.

In the painful midst of illness and turnaround, it was the idea that if anyone else could benefit from my experience, then it would be worth the process. God took that and made it a reality for me. Masking during the pandemic was a different circumstance, and it forced me to look back to remember and give thanks for God fulfilling His promises in ways that I could see. I can also give thanks that the years of suffering have given me the ability to embrace more people… people I would otherwise have no way of relating with. Whatever you may be going through, God will do the same for you.

Philippians 1:12-26

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay and my personal honeymoon photo.

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