Extreme Outlook


Voice of the Martyrs recently published a devotional titled,  Extreme Devotion: Daily Devotional Stories of Ancient to Modern Day Believers Who Sacrificed Everything for Christ. Using it in my own devotional life is quite sobering as I reflect on the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their faith.  Each devotional contains the word “Extreme” in its title along with the person and place of the story, a scripture, short story line, the story, concluding with a thought that ties it altogether.

Being a North American Christian my outlook on life is often focused on me, myself and I, resulting in overly concentrating on all the negative, instead of upward on Christ.  This story on page 67 calls me into question regarding this issue.

ROMANIA:  FLOREA

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 2:5

“Our Lord commanded us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” Florea calmly told the prison guards. “I cannot work on this day.”

The Romanian prisoners were forced to labor every day, but each Sabbath Florea refused.  For his refusal, the guards routinely beat him so bad he lost the use of his arms and legs.  He could only move his head.

Because he could no longer labor, Florea was forced to sit in his cell all day long.  He had to rely on other prisoners to feed him. In spite of his situation, Florea was not downcast.

When other prisoners would complain about their situation, Florea would encourage them.  “If the outlook is bad,” he would say, “try the ‘uplook.’ When Stephen was stoned, he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right of hand of God.  This comforted Stephen’s heart, and it will comfort yours too.”  He encouraged his fellow prisoners not to “look out” to their circumstances but to “look up” at Jesus.

One of Florea’s fellow prisoners was Richard Wurmbrand, who was released from the prison and found Florea’s nine-year old son.  He told him what a blessing his father had been in prison.

The boy smiled and replied, “I would like to become a sufferer and encourager for Christ as my father has been.”

A Christian is not privileged with a certain set of circumstances.  Nice home.  Perfect family.  Good health.  No, a Christian is a person with a certain attitude toward any and all circumstances.  A person’s attitude makes the difference, regardless of circumstances.  A heavenly attitude focuses on God’s presence amid trials.  Fixating on our hardships distracts us from a heavenly outlook.  We feel burdened.  Depressed. Hopeless.  In contrast, a godly outlook on our troubles brings confidence that God is at work.  We relax in God’s presence, waiting so see how he will work out our concerns.  Are you undergoing a trial right now?  Where are you focused?  Ask God to redirect your energies so you can look beyond your troubles and feel his presence near you.

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