I’m reading an interesting (probably out of print) book entitled Madame Guyon Martyr of the Holy Spirit by Phyllis Thompson. The book is about a woman named Madame Guyon who loved Jesus Christ while communing with Him through prayer, Bible reading and self-denial during the seventeenth century in France.
What struck me was how many times she was misunderstood and maligned. Everywhere she turned, folks were stirred up about her from her enemies. And yet, she felt joy when she encountered all this. Even in prison.
Today, Patrick and I spent lunch at some new friends’ home in St. Laurent du Var, near Nice. Around a lovely lunch table, he said, “It’s often when we are doing God’s work that the enemy attacks again and again.”
“I know,” I said, “I’ve heard that before, but to be honest, I’m a bit tired of it all.”
“Yes, I can imagine,” he said.
Later, he handed me the Madame Guyon book. I felt a bit under the weather today, so I curled up with the book and read about half of it. I realized through her life that our friend’s words were true. When you are trying to affect a dying world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, there will inevitably be opposition. Paul explains it plainly to 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It’s a given that Madame Guyon understood. She felt joy when the persecution and accusations came because it was proof that she was striving to live a godly life.
So, why am I so surprised? Why am I bothered when people misunderstand my heart and malign me in front of others? I take great comfort in these verses, written by Peter. Take some time to really read these verses, let them sink into your weary soul:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
So, if you are suffering under false accusations today, rejoice because it shows that the Spirit of glory rests upon you. All we can do is entrust our hearts to the God who SEES everything. My friend Sandi’s words have helped me tremendously. She asked me to consider how many times Jesus was misunderstood when He walked this earth (and as I type the question, I realize, too, that He is still widely misunderstood today). If I am misunderstood and mocked, then I am in the company of Jesus, who was GOD and yet people treated him like a criminal. Surely, He can hold my hand in the midst of a storm of words!
God sees. Those are two words that have sustained me. God sees. He is capable of holding my heart and my reputation, both of which are His anyway. Nothing escapes His notice. I pray that I would be as brave as Madame Guyon, entrusting my everything to the God who sees.