The Communist prison of Jilava was especially harsh. The broken windows let in the bitter winter cold. Some of the prisoners had even frozen to death. There was no sympathy for Christians at Jilava. In fact, they often endured “special” beatings from the cruel guards.
One of the new prisoners, Archmandrite Ghiush, was a pastor in the city of Liberty, Romania. As Archmandrite anxiously looked around his new “home,” he noticed a familiar face—a man who had served with him in Liberty. It was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. “How could he still be alive?” Archmandrite wondered. “No one has heard from him in nearly eight years.” The two faithful pastors embraced. Archmandrite smiled, grateful for an old friend to help him through the horrific sufferings he was about to endure.
But Pastor Wurmbrand did not smile. He felt saddened to see such a fine pastor in prison. He began to worry about him. Would he survive the cold and the cruel treatment? Would he go mad, as others had done? After eight years in prison, Wurmbrand knew what was to come.
The two friends sat silently for a while. Finally Richard broke the tension and softly asked, “Are you sad?” To his amazement Archmandrite simply replied, “Brother, I know only one sadness: That is not being fully given to Jesus.”
It is difficult to read the true stories of Christian martyrs without feeling emotionally drained. The natural reaction is one of sadness and a sense of pity for the innocent who died such horrific deaths. However, the heroes and heroines of the stories would wish for an altogether different response. They hoped their sacrifices would inspire others toward like-hearted commitment, not pity. Certainly, their deaths touch our hearts. But the realization of our own paltry faith ought to break our hearts in two. That is truly sad. Are you challenged beyond earthly sympathy towards repentance for your own complacency? Do you have a divine sense of determination as a result of your reading? Ask God to stir your resolve to live for him today.