God Is Glorified in Life or Death
"Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:20-21)
John and Betty Stam were missionaries to China in the 1930s. China was a dangerous place to be. The Communist army did not want foreign people in the country, and they did not like Christians. One day the Communists captured the Chinese city where the Stams lived. They took John, Betty, and their baby girl, Helen, captive.
That night, John, Betty, and Helen were locked in a room together. Sometime during the night, Betty found a way to leave baby Helen some things she would need if they were separated. She tucked a clean nightdress, diapers, and two five-dollar-bills into the blankets where Helen slept.
The next morning, John and Betty Stam were led outside the city and killed by Communists. They became martyrs, people who lose their lives because of their faith in Christ. Baby Helen was left alone in that little room. But God had not forgotten the baby. A whole day and night passed. The next day, Christian friends of the Stams found Helen after she had been left alone for thirty hours! The money that her mother had hidden in her blankets was enough to provide for these Chinese Christians to carry her to safety.
God's plan for John and Betty Stam was to glorify Himself through their death. The Stams went to be with Him. They joined the great chorus of praise around His throne. Through all eternity, they will keep praising Him. Many people have been awakened to the needs on the mission field by hearing their story. Thousands have carried God's Word to the dark places of the earth because of the Stams' sacrifice.
But God's plan for Helen was to glorify Himself through keeping her alive. People all over the world heard about Helen's rescue and praised God for His care for that helpless little baby.
God might lead you to a dangerous place someday in your service for Him. Are you willing to trust Him and follow Him so that He might be glorified—whether in your life or your death?
God chooses life or death for His children that He might receive glory.
» Am I afraid to follow God? Can I trust that His choice—life or death—is best for me?
» Do I want His glory more than I want anything else?
Truth In Real Life
"Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”
The name “Isaac Watts” is printed in nearly every modern hymnal today. Born the oldest of nine children on July 17, 1674, Isaac Watts would go down in history as “The Father of English Hymnody” – the father of hymns in the English language. Many of the 600 hymns he wrote during his lifetime are still sung today, including “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” “Joy to the World,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
Watts intended to spend his life as a pastor, but shortly after accepting the job at his first church, he got very sick and never fully recovered. As a result of his poor health, he was forced to stay at home and write. Not surprisingly, God used Watts’ illness for His glory. Many of our hymns would never have been written had he not been sick enough to have to stay home!
Besides writing hymns, Watts wrote books on all kinds of other subjects – like astronomy, ethics, geography, and grammar. His writing was published by Benjamin Franklin, and his books were used in colleges around the country.
Standing only five feet tall, with a very weak and feeble body, Watts did not imagine God would ever use him – but how wrong he was! God used this poet – and continues to use him today! – in churches around the world. One of his little known hymns includes the following words:
Happy the man whose hopes rely
On Israel’s God: He made the sky,
And earth, and seas, with all their train:
His truth for ever stands secure;
He saves th’oppressed, He feeds the poor,
And none shall find His promises vain.
Do you doubt that God could use you in spite of your shortcomings and limitations? Encourage your heart with biblical truths about Whose strength and power and knowledge really matters (God’s!). Some of Watts’ hymn lyrics might help you meditate on right thoughts about God, too!
Ephesians 5:19 – Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.