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By President Randall A. Bach

I love the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. It includes a wonderful review of “heroes of the faith,” men and women who by faith overcame tremendous adversity. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets are hailed, like a Hall of Fame of Faith. You and I want to be like those heroes, savoring the blessing of victory not just in heaven but here, now. It is convenient and even popular in the U.S. to build a theology beyond faith, one filled with expectations of prosperity and freedom from suffering, virtually as if God owes us and has a contractual commitment to spare us from pain and loss.

We surely do serve a loving God, and when we embrace His salvation through Christ and also invite Jesus to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, we are most definitely blessed! As the late composer and worship artist Andrae Crouch wrote, “But if heaven never was promised to me, neither God’s promise to live eternally. It’s been worth just having the Lord in my life.” But what do we do with the rest of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, with the “others”?

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But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground (Hebrews 11:35-38, NLT).

Clearly, Christians are sometimes “privileged” to suffer because of their faith and resolve to serve Christ. Kenneth Bae endured two years of suffering as a prisoner in North Korea under one of the most repressive and cruel regimes in the world. Kenneth was a missionary for Jesus who knew and accepted risk to his safety. He became one of those “other” stories as are recounted in Hebrews. Thankfully he was not doomed to live under those horrendous conditions until death, but for a significant season he suffered.

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Christians who live where freedom and personal safety are easily taken for granted often forget about millions of Christians in other parts of the world who because of their faith have life and limb threatened every day. We dare not deceive ourselves into thinking we are more deserving than they to be free from suffering. Kenneth Bae’s freedoms disappeared as quickly as the snap of a finger. You and I are not immune from suffering. It could come, and it could come quickly. If and when it does, may we be found faithful.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4, NLT).

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 46 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.