It happens that I am writing these words from my hotel room in Seoul, South Korea. In a few days we will fly to Dalian, China where we will meet with Christian students from several local universities. We all know that life as a Christian is not easy in China. If you speak up for your faith, you risk official harassment and sometimes outright persecution. I received a note a few days ago describing what the students want to talk about when we get together. Here is what the students wrote:
We often face situations in life that buffet our faith in the Lord, for example:
When our family members or ourselves face injustice
When we encounter health problems
When our non-believing family members die suddenly
When we see Christians whom we know and who love the Lord encounter bad things in their lives or their family members.
When we encounter such situations in our life, we often wonder “Does the Lord really love us?” What is the Lord’s attitude towards these situations? And what does He feel about such situations?
And also when we visit orphanages or the hospital for handicapped children, we see many life tragedies, like children who lack mental and emotional abilities because their brains are not developed. In such cases, we wonder “Why do such things happen?” How does the Lord view such situations? How should we face and react to such kind of situations?
As I pondered what those university students wrote, it struck me that the problems of life are the same everywhere. Despite the very great cultural differences between East and West and between the Global North and the Global South, the needs of the human heart are the same wherever you go.
There are times when life goes bad for all of us. The letter from Jesus to the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) helps us think biblically about the struggles of life, especially those struggles that come because of our Christian faith.
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