This Christmas, I’ve been messaging with a few friends in China. Things seem to be changing quickly; after years of testing for and trying to avoid Covid, now, suddenly, everyone seems to be getting the disease. When it comes to the larger landscape of the situation in China, I’ve heard a mixture of responses from my Christian friends. Many are truly concerned about the future and what might come; some have considered leaving the country; but others seem philosophical, accepting that the situation is what it is.
This December, we have been praying for suffering in China. There are many types of suffering, from that brought about by disease, to that of persecution, to suffering due to relationship difficulties and distresses. All humans will experience suffering during our time on earth – it’s part of the result of life in a sin-filled world – but I can’t pretend that I understand what it is to be a Chinese Christian in these uncertain times. Still, I love and care deeply about my brothers and sisters in China. As I pray for their suffering, here are a few things I am trying to remember.
Fellowship with God
Hebrews 4:15 says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus truly understands any suffering that his followers may experience. So, when hard times come, I continually pray that Chinese believers will know they are not alone, and that they will experience the presence of God in the midst of difficulty.
Although suffering is never welcome, it is sometimes true that it can usher us into Christ’s presence in a special and very real way. So I am praying that, in times of pain, Chinese Christians will walk in intimate fellowship with their Savior. As they follow Jesus in the way of the cross, may they know that he is with them and cares for them in every way imaginable.
Fellowship with Other Believers
I am praying that Chinese Christians will not be isolated in times of trial, but will remember that their brothers and sisters in Christ are united with them by the Spirit. When we pray for Chinese Christians, when we reach out to those with whom we may have connections, we can immensely encourage and bless them. We may not have walked the road they trod, but as believers, their joys and their pains belong to us as well.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
I am also praying that Chinese Christians will intentionally reach out to and encourage one another in times of suffering. May they be bold to visit and care for the families of those who are persecuted, and may they reach out to and shepherd congregations in need of a leader. May no believer be isolated in their suffering, but may we accompany one another in prayer (and any tangible ways that we can).
For the Joy Set Before Them
Finally, I am praying that Chinese Christians who are currently experiencing suffering will follow Jesus’s example laid out in Hebrews 12:2: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” In this life we will have troubles. But that is not the end of the story. Joy comes in the morning, and Christ has overcome this world of sin and death.
I am praying that this joy will be real, will be visible, and will encourage believers in suffering as they press on to follow Jesus. The stories are true! The suffering that many believers endure in this present age will not last forever. There is something far better just ahead.
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese Christians experiencing suffering to remember that Jesus is with them, that other believers have not forgotten them, and that joy will come.