“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free.” —Hebrews 11:35b
This is something any parent in love with their child would say: “If I could take the place of my suffering child, I would.”
To endure pain for someone else, especially as a child—or even as an adult—is a remarkable act of love. Consider the honest, heart-wrenching prayers saying, “Dear Lord, take me so that my love will live.”
This is the kind of love Paul is speaking about here, love from one to another. Only this love isn’t love between parent and child; this love is between the saved and their Savior Jesus. “I will not turn from you, Lord,” this text is saying, “even if it means I must suffer.”
At first glance, this love may seem almost too incredible to believe, let alone understand. After all, we ditch our plans for a day at the beach if, after thirty minutes, we are eaten alive by flies. Camping trips are nixed or cut short because of bad weather. Who spends the night in a tent during an all-out deluge where the wet corner of the tent can now float a rubber duck?
For the Christian who understands that their life is fated for hell without Jesus, this torture mentioned here, while indeed excruciatingly painful, is a willing choice. Why?
Because when we choose to follow a Savior who suffered for us so that we may be set free to heaven, our lives are no longer ours. They belong to Jesus.
Christianity in this world is not about convenience. This faith is never about self-gain, comfort, or ease. Instead, this faith is about Jesus who was sent by God, the Father, to save us from sin. In gratitude for the suffering servant on earth, we refuse to turn from God and, in doing so, are set free.
PRAYER: God, we pray for those suffering. May their situations never be far from our minds. And may we never be far from You. Ever. In Jesus’ name, amen.