There is natural reason for Ukrainians to dread Russia taking over their country again—oppression under communism was intense and costly. Ukrainian Kostyantyn spent many years in a Soviet labor camp. The authorities disliked his actions as an elder in his church so they sent him to be re-educated. Over 200 pastors were also sent to the same camp.
To break these saints, the guards issued them shovels and sharpened sticks and forced them to dig trenches in the frozen ground. When they did not make enough progress each day they were punished. They were stripped to their underwear and then ice water was thrown on them. They were given stale crusts of bread and water for supper and then they were placed in freezing cells all night. Kostyantyn reported that more than 200 pastors died of disease and “natural causes” within three months. These men perished because they refused to deny their faith. Their examples fueled Kostyantyn’s determination to survive.
Psalm 118:6—The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Did you know that victorious living is God’s desire for us? “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Freedom is victory! I don’t mean the freedom that lets us do whatever we want. I mean the freedom bound in Christ’s lordship; certain in the assurance our lives are safe in His hands. The measure of our triumph is found in how we respond to adversity. We may live in abject poverty yet be joyful in Christ. We may face disease, paralysis, beatings or chronic pain while our hearts rest in worship. If people mistreat, abuse or shackle our bodies we still have the capacity to radiate peace if our eyes are on the Son of God.
In the army, when we feel righteous in our position and disgusted with senior leadership, we have a common saying. “What can they do—make me a private and send me to Afghanistan?” The prevailing thought is that demotion and banishment would be preferable to accepting what is unacceptable.
We ought never to let man destroy our values, our vision and most of all our hope. This is precisely why Jesus’ apostles courageously shared their faith as world-changers. Following Jesus’ example, they were unafraid of what the religious leaders, ruling authorities or any person might do to them. God was for them and their eternal future was not in doubt.
Konstyantyn overcame a hellish period of suffering because his heart and mindset remained anchored on his Savior. Faith is the most powerful antidote in the world! If God is for us, we do nothave to fear. So what kind of life are you living? Are you victorious or are you constantly beaten down, discouraged, and afraid? Fear is not of the Lord so that should be a good clue. Set your eyes on the King. If you worship Him, have no doubt, He is for you!
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities . . . because it is the quality which guarantees all others.—Winston Churchill
©2014 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Nik Ripken in The Insanity of God, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, ©2013 ps. 172,173