Jesus’ description of himself to the church at Smyrna as “the one who died but is alive” (Rev 2:8) does not only describe our eternal destiny but colours our life right now. It’s a daily reality.
Josef Tson’s wife Elizabeth struggled to give her husband up to the purposes of God which, in communist Romania, might well include dyeing for him. One night when she couldn’t sleep she asked her husband to show her in the bible how God works. Josef showed her how
“God conkers the world through lambs with Jesus being the chief lamb but the other lambs, as they go to the wolves and are torn in pieces, the wolves become lambs”.
She never had a sleepless night again.
When you become a Christian you embrace and live this principle of riches through poverty and life through death. Here’s Josef Tson again:
“When the secret police officer threatened to kill me, to shoot me, I smiled and I said, ‘Sir, don’t you understand that when you kill me you send me to glory? You cannot threaten me with glory.’ The more suffering, the more troubles, the greater the glory….
During one particularly harrowing session of interrogation, Tson told his inquisitors that spilling his blood would only serve to water the growth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of the theology of suffering, he learned, was that tribulation is never an accident but is part of God’s sovereign plan for building His church.
“I told the interrogator, ‘You should know your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying,’” Tson said.
“‘Now here is how it works, sir: You know that my sermons are on tape all over the country. When you shoot me or crush me, whichever way you choose, [you] only sprinkle my sermons with my blood. Everybody who has a tape of one of my sermons will pick it up and say, ‘I had better listen again. This man died for what he preached.’ Sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder after you kill me and because you kill me. In fact, I will conquer this country for God because you killed me. Go on and do it.’
“Dying for the Lord is not an accident. It’s not a tragedy. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the ministry. And it’s the greatest way of preaching.”
Jesus said you need to lose your life to find it. Jesus’ life showed that sometimes the path of victory is through suffering, defeat and death. Crunch. Jesus is adjusting me again! What about you?