Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
10 April 2022
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Let us continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine.
As narrated by Richard Wurmbrand:
Surioanu was a priest … put in jail at the age of seventy. When … brought in, … officers at the gate of the jail mocked him. One asked, “Why did they bring this old priest here?” … another replied with a jeer, “Probably to take the confessions of everybody” [i.e. before they die].
He had a son who had died in a Soviet jail; a daughter sentenced to 20 years. Two of his sons-in-law were with him in jail—one in the same cell. His grandchildren had no food … forced to eat from the garbage. His whole family was destroyed. He had lost his church. But he had such a shining face—always a beautiful smile. He never greeted anyone with “Good morning” or “Good evening”, but instead with, “Always rejoice”.
One day we asked him, “Father, how can you say ‘always rejoice’—you who passed through such a terrible tragedy?” He said, “Rejoicing is very easy if we fulfill at least one word from the Bible … ‘Rejoice with all those who rejoice.’ Now if one rejoices with all those who rejoice, he always has plenty of motivation for rejoicing. I sit in jail, and I rejoice that so many are free. I don’t go to church, but I rejoice with all those who are in church. I can’t take Holy Communion, but I rejoice about all those who do take it. I can’t read the Bible or any other holy book, but I rejoice with those who do. I can’t see flowers [we never saw a tree or a flower during those years. We were under the earth, in a subterranean prison. We never saw the sun, the moon, stars—many times we forgot that these things existed. We never saw a colour, only the grey walls of the cell and our grey uniforms. But we knew that such a world existed, a world with multicoloured butterflies and with rainbows], but I can rejoice with those who see the rainbows and who see the multicoloured butterflies”.
In prison, the smell was not very good. But the priest said, “Others have the perfume of flowers around them, and girls wearing perfume. And others have picnics and others have their families of children around them. I cannot see my children but others have children. And he who can rejoice with all those who rejoice can always rejoice. I can always be glad”. That is why he had such a beautiful expression on his face.
Please Read: Romans 5:1-11
… we also rejoice in our sufferings …Rom. 5:3
It’s almost like the apostle is bringing us down to earth with a crash. Here we were rejoicing in the glory to come and then suddenly we are faced with this, “rejoicing in our sufferings. How can we do that?” – by the Holy Spirit’s enabling (and see the Testimony above, “Rejoicing with others”, and worship song ‘Rejoice in the Lord’).
The word for suffering here can mean: “distress brought about by outward circumstances” (James Dunn); e.g.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.1 Thess 1:6
But also means “the tribulations of the last days” (Dunn) e.g.
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations … But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered.Daniel 12:1
Further pointers to enable us to rejoice in suffering are to realise that these are not from God. In the book of Job we see how obsessive the enemy is to get at God’s righteous people and to afflict them. Another key is the way we respond to suffering, recognising God uses them for good purposes, an attitude completely opposite to pagan or worldly views to suffering which regard them as a disaster or calamity without any reason or purpose behind them. The Christian “comes to understand his or her own sufferings as being under the providence of God and allowed by God as a means of gaining ‘perseverance,’ ‘character,’ and ‘hope’” (Richard Longenecker). So afflictions end up producing hope, how very awesome is God, in and through His Son Jesus Christ, Amen!
Quote of the week
“I have found truly jubilant Christians only in the Bible, in the Underground Church and in prison.”
Richard Wurmbrand – ‘In God’s Underground’
Verse of the week
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.Rom. 14:17
Our gracious, loving, heavenly Father, we worship and adore You and rejoice in You. Help us to rejoice and glory in our sufferings. Pray bring the sufferings in the Ukraine to an end in Jesus, Amen.