Some stand uncertainly, arms wrapped around their children.
Others grip the iron bars of their prison in desperation.
But all eyes are fastened on Luke, as one man asks him the question they all long to voice.
“What’s going to happen to us?”
A short time ago I rented the movie, Paul Apostle of Christ, to watch with my three teenage sons. (Please note, I do not recommend showing this movie to young children. Even with older children, I would advise you to screen it first. It’s a very real-to-life depiction of what the early Christians faced in Rome.)
The movie was not entertaining. I can’t say I enjoyed it.
But I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to view the film. I experienced just a taste of what Paul, Luke, and Christ’s followers endured for the sake of Jesus.
One scene plays over and over in the theater of my mind. Luke has been thrown into a prison where dozens of Christians–men, women, and children–are held. They have not been told their fate, but Luke knows. He knows what is to happen when the dawn breaks the following morning. He knows what is to come.
“What’s going to happen to us?” Luke’s fellow prisoner pleads.
Luke’s face reveals the anguish of his soul. Should he tell his Christian brothers and sisters the truth? Will his silence spare them pain, or prolong it? How can he speak such words as he knows?
After a few moments, he holds his hands out to them. Those sharing his cell gather close, while his brethren in adjoining cells press up against the bars.
With a voice full of compassion, he tells them the truth. They will face the wild beasts at dawn.
At first, they cry out in terror. But Luke continues to speak. He tells them that yes, there will be pain. But only for a few moments. And after that, they will be with Jesus.
All sorrow gone. No more pain. No more tears. No more uncertainty.
The fear on their faces turns to acceptance. Acceptance and quiet courage. Courage that is fueled by the knowledge they will see Jesus in just a few short hours.
The last we see of these brave men, women, and children is as they step from the gloom of their prison into blinding sunlight when the doors of the Roman arena are raised.
They step out into the light, to face their fate.
And moments later, they are with Jesus.
Oh how I wish every child of God could capture the faith of that moment!
No, we don’t face wild beasts that tear our flesh.
But we do face hard things in life that tear our hearts wide open. And sometimes we wonder where God is in the midst of our pain. And we wonder why He allows such suffering.
But if only we could emblazon this truth into our hurting hearts:
Yes, life brings pain that tears us apart. But compared to eternity, our pain lasts only for a few moments.
After those few moments, we will be with Jesus.
In grasping this truth, we find the courage to withstand in the trials of this life.
Courage to stand strong until the day when we step into the light.
To be forever in the presence of Jesus.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Corinthians 4:17)
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:4, 13)