The continued detention of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is preventing him from hugging his well-deserved 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. This situation is painful to peace-loving people all over the world.
Reading about it, I could not help think of the arrival of more than 400 refugees of Tamil descent in B.C. last year – which struck a chord with many, and antipathy in others.
Whether economic or political in nature, love for freedom and an open society do bring challenges to any nation.
God, and our faith in Him, are often represented as a city of refuge – to which we fly when our troubles are too great, when we “can’t take it no more.”
It is indeed a false faith which does not provide help when troubles in life come. If the untold suffering, the loss and disillusionment of tragic days are not to plunge us into darkness and despair, we, too, must discover a very present help in times of trouble.
Vital Christianity enables us to find this help by refusing to run away. It accepts trouble as a part of life; and it ought to, for Christianity was born out of suffering – and strengthened by it.
Out of this real experience of trouble, Christ’s followers have learned that, although trouble is a part of life, it is not sent by God.
When trouble comes, let’s take hold of it, get something out of it – and make it a witness to the power of Christ.
That’s what Paul did while imprisoned in Rome. This enabled him to write to the church at Philippi: “My bonds and suffering have really tended to advance the gospel.”
That didn’t just happen – Paul chose to submit to it.
This is what vast numbers of Christians are doing today as they suffer tragedy and difficulty – gaining qualities and powers which enable them to minister to the needs of others.
Seldom, if ever, are we free to determine what experiences come to us. However, we are, with Christ’s help, free to determine how we use those experiences.
Narayan Mitra is chaplain at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.