Christians facing death in the Roman Colliseum

Happy All Saints Day! Today we celebrate the faith and courage of all those who have been martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. We’ve been busy at our house, getting ready for a host of friends, who are coming tonight to feast, play games, and watch an inspiring movie about a great man of God. I’ve been hustling about all morning, baking and cleaning, with a song in my soul.

Those who are currently facing great persecution, will not enjoy much feasting and laughter today. However, we pray for a quiet assurance that all will be well, no matter how their physical battle ends.

I was reminded of that last night as we watched The Return of the King, the third in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gandalf and Pippin are hunkered down together just before the battle of Minas Tirith, and things look hopeless. Pippin says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.”


Gandalf’s reply is unexpected, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it…”

Life after death for the faithful holds beauty, rest, and peace. Buoyed by this, Pippin and Gandalf go into battle knowing that whatever the outcome that day, all will be well for them in the end. That is why there is a quietness in the soul of a saint (born-again believer) before combat. There’s no need to work into a froth of war-energy because they know they already stand in victory.

William Tyndale
King David said it well,
I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Psa. 62:1-2, NLT

That is how millions of Christians have been able to stare death in the face and not fear. They know that death is not defeat, but the gateway to their heavenly reward. Jim Elliot, who was murdered with four other missionaries by the natives of Ecuador said this: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Their story is told in the book Gates of Splendor, the movie Beyond the Gates of Splendor, and the movie The End of the Spear.
Jim Elliot
 

What inspiring examples we have of faith in the face of the terrors of suffering for the sake of Christ. I’m so glad we have a day to focus our minds and hearts on these brave men and women. From their stories, we can build courage to face our own difficulties with quiet confidence. For we know, in Christ, we have the ultimate victory.