To be joyful in prison

These words are directly taken from “TORTURED FOR CHRIST” by Richard Wurmbrand. They are words which need to be heard by everyone. As Christians are being persecuted more and more everyday we have to learn to be joyful amidst whatever we are facing.Hope this encourages you to experience the joy of Christ amidst your circumstances. If you read the book read it once again. If you haven’t already read it, hope this will encourage you to start.

When I look back on my fourteen years of prison, it was occasionally a very happy time. Other prisoners and even the guards very often wondered at how happy Christians could be under the most terrible circumstances. We could not be prevented from singing, although we were beaten for this. I imagine that nightingales, too, would sing, even if they knew that after finishing they would be killed for it. Christians in prison danced with joy. How could they be so happy under such tragic conditions?

I meditated often in prison about Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see” (Luke 10:23). The disciples had just come back from the tour through Palestine where they had seen horrors. Palestine was an oppressed country. Everywhere there was the terrible misery of a tyrannized people. The disciples met sickness, plagues, hunger, and sorrow. They entered houses from which patriots had been taken to prison, leaving behind weeping parents or wives. It was not a beautiful world to look upon.

Still Jesus said, ” Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see.” That was because they had not seen only the suffering. They had also seen the Savior. For the first time a few ugly worms – caterpillars that creep on leaves – understood that, after this miserable existence, there comes life as a beautiful, multicolored butterfly, able to flit from flower to flower. This happiness was ours, too.

Around me were “Jobs” – some much more afflicted than Job had been. But I knew the end of Job’s story, how he received twice as much as he had before. I had around me men like Lazarus the beggar, hungry and covered in boils. But I knew that angels would take these men to the bosom of Abraham. I saw them as they will be in the future. I saw in the shabby, dirty, weak martyr near me the splendidly crowned saint of tomorrow.

But looking at men like this – not as they are, but as they will be – I could also see in our persecutors a Saul of Tarsus – a future apostle Paul. And some have already become so. Many officers of the secret police to whom we witnessed became Christians and were happy to later suffer in prison for having found our Christ. Although we were whipped, as Paul was, in our jailers we saw the potential of the jailer in Philippi who became a covert. We dreamed that soon they would ask, “What must I do to be saved?” In those who mocked the Christians who were tied to crosses and smeared with excrement, we saw the crown of Golgotha who were soon to beat their hearts in fear of having sinned.

It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the communists. It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility toward them. It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them.

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