“Symphorosa, a widow, and her seven sons, were commanded by the emperor to sacrifice to the heathen deities. She was carried to the temple of Hercules, scourged, and hung up, for some time, by the hair of her head: then being taken down, a large stone was fastened to her neck, and she was thrown into the river, where she expired. With respect to the sons, they were fastened to seven posts, and being drawn up by pullies, their limbs were dislocated: these tortures, not affecting their resolution, they were martyred by stabbing, except the Eugenus, the youngest, who was sawed asunder.”
The answer to that lies in the question.
Maybe it's not that God is blessing some people and others not, maybe we're looking at it the wrong way.
This reminds me of last Christmas’ (2010) Jollibee commercial. I tried looking for a copy of the commercial in YouTube but I can't find one (Even if I did, I might be breaking some copyright laws by posting it). So, I'll just describe it for you. The story revolves around a family and like any typical Filipino family they go to church at midnight for the Simbang Gabi (evening mass) during Christmas. It's traditionally known that if you complete the 9-day Simbang Gabi series, you can make a wish and it will come true. The first scene in the commercial is inside a church and we get to hear what the people are praying for. Actually, all you hear is "I wish..." and "I wish..." and "I wish..." and "I wish..." until they zoom in to the family where the older sister prays that her younger brother would be less annoying and the younger brother prays that her older sister would be more considerate. After church they go to Jollibee for breakfast (you HAVE to go to Jollibee after church. That's the law) and the younger brother does become less annoying and the older sister becomes more considerate. Then the commercial ends with a phrase saying that some wishes do come true.
That got me thinking. Is that really how we think of God? As an eternal genie? Just ask something and He'll give it to you free of charge? I think that commercial is a clear reflection of how most people in the Philippines think of God (even if they deny it) and not just the particular denomination the commercial depicts. Don't believe me? Ask anybody living in the Philippines if they were appalled by that commercial or if they even noticed how God was depicted there. You'd be hard pressed to find even one.
Another story that comes to mind is about a guy who, having seen a gorgeous young woman, prays to God that she would date him. He prayed hard, I bet, because she already has a boyfriend for several years. They did eventually date and ended up liking each other a lot (something the life of me can't fully understand). On one conversation of their conversations, they decided not to see each other anymore because it's wrong. Then he asked her, "Did you pray for me? Maybe God is just answering your prayer. Because I know I prayed for you." Her answer? "No!" Maybe he forgot that she had a boyfriend. Anyway, that story is from two people who are actively attending a christian church. Think about it, 1) he's coveting someone else wife, or future wife (10th Commandment) and 2) he's lusting over somebody (7th Commandment, Mt 5:27-28). How can one even think of adding, "In Jesus' name" to a request like that!? It's like praying, "God, my officemate is annoying. Could you kill him please? In Jesus' name. Amen."
God didn't promise that your life will be better if you become a Christian. In fact He promised the exact opposite. Here's what the Bible says:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:16-22
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26-33
- PHILIP: Stoned to death, Phrygia, A.D. 54
- PETER: Crucified, Rome, A.D. 69
- ANDREW: Crucified, Achaia, A.D. 70
- MATTHEW: Beheaded, Ethiopia, A.D. 70
- LUKE: Hanged, Greece, A.D. 93
- THOMAS: Speared to death, Calamino, A.D. 70
- MARK: Dragged to death, Alexandria, A.D. 64
- JAMES (THE LESS): Clubbed to death, Jerusalem, A.D. 63
- JOHN: Abandoned, Isle of Patmos, A.D. 63
- BARNABAS: Burned to death, Cyprus, A.D. 64
- PAUL: Beheaded, Rome, A.D. 69
If God promised that Christians will have an abundant life, then why did the apostles live and die the way they did? It means God lied. And if He's a liar, we shouldn't be trusting His promise of eternity in heaven. In fact how can we even trust Him that there is a heaven?
So God lied?
Definitely not! You see abundant means plenty, or overflowing. Did the apostles live an abundant life? They did! It was overflowing of persecution and the pain was more than plenty.
Why then are not getting persecution today?
Maybe you should ask yourself that. Because God said that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) and Christians around the globe are getting persecuted.
See for yourself.
Update: I guess the video's too graphic because the link above was also taken down. I've replaced the video with a less graphic one.
This has been rather long but I hope I've at least opened your eyes to the reality of what other believers are facing. Please let us know what you think.