“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings…being destitute, afflicted, tormented…” –Hebrews 11:36,37
Welcome to the fraternity of the forgotten – the society of silent sufferers – you are not alone – yes, your same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. While some were delivered from certain trials, others of us have been entrusted with the opportunity to prove God faithful by facing them head-on. We know what it is to die a thousand deaths, to implode, to wither, to have nothing left within, but the resigned whisper of our smoking flax – “So, this is faith.” We speak your language. We feel your pain.
We’ve met the maddening Mr. O. P. Pression of 7:7 Ecclesiastes Alley where we were in the fight of our lives for our lives with him and his vengeful wife, De Pression. We’ve had our heart ripped out in Room 109:16 at Psalm Medical Sinner and walked all over by Dr. Merciless and Nurse Never-good-enough. We know what it is to be doubted, discredited, despised, deserted, and destroyed. We’ve been taken advantage of and had our good evil spoken of. We’ve had to pray, fast, work, sacrifice, wait and hope for victory while every inch of effort was being contested, and the vessel of our service to God was taking on wave upon wave of torrential waters.
And, yes, we’ve had our moments – our fainting fits – our when we questioned God’s power and wisdom – times when we wanted to “save ourselves” by coming down from the cross of surrender – times when we lost it and wished we had never been born – times of tempestuous pain when we sighed and cried and writhed in internal agony – times when we were shaken to pieces; believing without doubt we were finished and that our lives would end in the dungeon of defeat. Our soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in us. Selah.
While drinking our cup of suffering in our own Gethsemane, our soul melted when we saw the thick, dark clouds of opposition gather and strut toward us on the betraying legs of lightning. We’ve been as the refuged moon peering through a curtain of clouds waiting for the stormnight of thunderous threatenings to pass. We’ve longed for the morning of victorious clearing to see the Sun of Righteousness rise as our radiant King and march through the sky of our lives once again.
Tracked and racked – we’ve been there. We’ve been tracked by the hounds of Hell and had our faith stretched on the rack of ruin. We’ve bore our cross and His reproach. We’ve been cast into the fiery furnace of affliction. But, we were not alone. We found Him there – the fourth man who never left the fire. He was right there waiting on us. Instead of taking us, He taught us. He used the freedom of the fire to show us our dross of pride and self-will, and to put purified iron in our soul. He is weaning us from the praise of men and from leaning on our own understanding – emptying us of ourselves so we can be filled with His fulness. In breaking us, He is making us. In bruising us, He is using us. When it comes to learning God’s way and the reward of the struggle, we’ve been privileged to live it so we could give it. We’ve found that in losing, we’ve won.
As a badge of honour, our sufferings identify us with Christ and each other. Whether we, as David’s mighty men, are drawn together by distress, debt or discontent, the fire of God’s Word is still in our bones and we’d still rather have Jesus more than anything this world has to offer. We are willing to be a nobody – to keep taking risks and laying it all on the line – to be lightly esteemed among men and yet, highly esteemed by God. We are the faint, yet pursuing; the weak, though anointed; the cast down, but not destroyed. By His Spirit, we are a part of the few, the brave, the battle-ready, the bound and determined by the grace of God. “Til the death” – we are…The Band of Others.
“(Of whom the world was not worthy:)” –Hebrews 11:38