The Necessity of Tears

Share this!

Your churches have much,” the convocation speaker summarized.

Since he hailed from the People’s Republic of China, I assumed his visit to the Taiwan Baptist Seminary proved impressive. After all, Christians here in democratic Taiwan knew unlimited freedom. He’d mentioned our liberty to worship, pray, and evangelize, all of which stimulated a sense of pride among professors and students alike.

And then, with a quiet solemnity and a pregnant pause, he added, “But this one thing you lack.” We breathlessly awaited his statement as the rich young ruler must have done.

Then, looking intently upon each of us, he whispered, “Persecution.”

To this day, fifteen years later, I still remember the gravity that gripped our hearts. Could the church truly need affliction? Could the hardship and suffering currently experienced by so many in His body be a preparation for endurance?

Over the past year, almost every family I know has been touched by anxiety and heartache. In my own experience, deceit and abuse have left me shocked by betrayal with grief.

See to it that no one misleads you,” Jesus said. “You will be hated…and at that time many will be offended and will deliver up one another and hate one another…but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:4, 9, 10, 13).

Our Holy Bridegroom is coming again for a bride who has made herself ready (Revelation 19:8). As uncomfortable as it makes us, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). We American Christians aren’t exempt from suffering, for we too need endurance (Hebrews 10:36). Christians in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are, even now, afflicted for the Name of Christ. Why do we suppose our fate will be different on that great day? “Immediately after the tribulation…the Son of Man will appear in the sky” (Matthew 24:29-30).

There are at least two great sources of comfort in our present and coming affliction. First, God promises to revive us through His Word (Psalm 119:50). As we thank Him for His Word and seek more revelation, times of refreshing will come from His Presence (Acts 3:19).

Our second comfort is to agree with Him that tears are for our good (Psalm 119:71). Walking through the dark valleys instead of avoiding them is the only way to know Him more (Psalm 23:4; Philippians 3:10). Since He was a Man of sorrows, we, as His bride, must be acquainted with grief as well (Isaiah 54:3). “For as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

Let us join Brother Yun, a current Chinese Christian who has been twice-imprisoned for his faith. “We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry,” he testifies, “but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power.” Even so, Lord Jesus, come.