From a letter sent in by a VOM reader:
“In 1996, our daughter Sophia had a long seizure causing permanent brain damage. She suffered badly for months, crying incessantly for two or three days at a time and writhing in pain. She did not know us or respond to us.
"One nurse could not understand why we were not angry with God for allowing this to happen. I tried to help her see that we are his servants and cannot deny the tremendous gift that God had given us in his Son. Four months after her seizure, Sophia died.
“The day she died, I saw a picture from a The Voice of the Martyrs article of a Sudanese sister whose breasts had been cut off sitting next to her infant. Her persecutors tortured her by doing this horrible thing, forcing her to watch her child die of starvation. Thousands of miles away from where she was, I knew her pain, and I wept, thinking, I will not allow myself to wallow in self-pity.
“That woman and others like her did not have the benefit of medical care, fellowship, and love from brethren that we had. Yet they have endured so much, and I, by the grace of God, can also endure it.
“I need these living epistles of the Lord Jesus Christ to express the reality that Jesus lives and this world is not my home.”
While God’s presence is always near through the person of the Holy Spirit, we often need those spiritual encouragers with skin on them to help us in our faith. Martyrs and other believers throughout the centuries are real people whose real examples of courage inspire us to believe that maybe, just maybe, we may be able to respond likewise. While we may not share in their exact adversities, we can adopt the spirit of their tenacity and bravery for our daily lives. If you have been inspired by an extreme story of faith, share it with others. Pass along the example. Teach others to draw strength from those who have gone before, living their faith as examples to all.