Those in my age group, and the generation before us, knew about suffering. We heard those of our parents age, and even their parents before them, talk about what many pioneers of the faith in this country, went through. They were sometimes beaten, had rotten eggs and rotten tomatoes, tossed at them while they preached, they were scorned, screamed at and made fun of. It was mostly about the fact that they preached the message of Pentecost; receiving the Holy Ghost.
There was much study of the Word, in the early days; even among our age group. We had been taught about Jesus Christ and the way He suffered and the things He went through, from the time we were little children. We were very much aware of what kind of persecution and suffering, that the Apostles were subjected to; in their ministries and all of their travels. And there is something else we understood very well; that we would also suffer, if we wanted the deeper things of the Spirit. To be gifted in the Spirit, and to be used of God, was going to cost us; and it was going to cost us a lot.
We all started out well. When we didn’t have so much, materially speaking, the trials and tests, did not seem so great. The Holy Ghost flowed freely and we saw wondrous things; there was much more liberty in the Spirit. I was a witness; and so were many of you. But then, the desires of the world began to creep in; having things, and prospering at church and at home, had an unmeasured effect. Suffering, wasn’t fun. You had to give up many things, that others didn’t give up. You were not your own; and you had to follow the Spirit, whether others did or not. I confess, the price was great.
But you see, when our people could use and operate those gifts, and see the Holy Ghost manifested in such a powerful manner, it was worth it. It required intense prayer and fasting; self denial and being open to the voice of the Spirit. But, most everyone was doing that; in the beginning. We knew there was a price; we also knew that it would cost us everything. But we believed, we were just passing through this world; going to a better place. I knew, as others did, it was the only way to really know Him; in His fullness.
The Apostles said, we had “the sentence of death in ourselves.” There are those of us here, even now, who know what that means. We learned, the words; “after that ye hath suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish you, strengthen, settle you.” The word fellowship means: A mutual sharing, as of experience, activity.
Many of us have suffered a lot; and some of us, still are. It takes, what it takes. It’s nothing, compared with what our Lord went through; it never could be. But what He began in us, He will now complete.
~ Robert Blackburn