Remembering the Saints (2)
I have commemorated the kingfolk around the King above the clouds…
They have hewed out roads which fools deem not easy:
Before going to the Kingdom they have suffered tribulations.
- Oengus the Culdee, Martyrology of Oengus (9th century?)
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
- Hebrews 11.35-38
The apostle Paul explained, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14.22). Tribulation is a hard road. No one chooses this way without a very good reason. The saints of the Old Testament, many of whom are commemorated in Hebrews 11, chose that road because God called them to it, as part of their faithful witness and service. Oengus mac Oengobann recognized that “the kingfolk” of the generations before him had undergone tribulations as well, and in doing so, they had “hewed out roads”, showing us where and how to walk in our journey with the Lord.
We must remember those who have gone before us both for their love for God and His Word and for the endurance through suffering they demonstrated. Both the writer of Hebrews and Oengus mac Oengobann agree on this. Oengus composed his Martyrology as an epic poem, tied to the days of the year, “to establish a relationship between whoever recited it and the saints themselves” (John Carey, King of Mysteries, p. 180). The courage through suffering of our forebears in the faith can bolster our own resolve when it comes to enduring the trials and tribulations Jesus promised we would know in this world (Jn. 16.33).
The saints who have preceded us in this journey of faith were trailblazers in many ways. They worked out the difficult Biblical doctrines which provide the foundation of truth for our faith. They learned to work and worship together as one people and one body. They did the work of evangelism, showed us how to love our neighbors, and left a legacy of writings, artifacts, and examples that are available to enrich our own walk with and work for the Lord.
None of this came easy. Great costs of time, attention, hardship, want, suffering, and other trials were expended to build-up their fellow believers and hew the paths for future generations to walk. Those old “kingfolk” who endured so much practiced Paul’s example, who wrote, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12.15).
Do we have such an attitude toward our fellow believers? Toward the lost people in our Personal Mission Field? What about toward the generation of believers who will succeed us in our homes, churches, and ministries? It takes effort, sacrifice, and endurance to seek and advance the Kingdom of God. But having been translated into that Kingdom by our Lord Jesus Christ, we are obliged to seek it in every aspect of our lives, no matter the cost.
The saints of old can teach us how to endure and grow through suffering. Since, in this world, we can only make progress in the Kingdom through trials and tribulations, we need all the help we can get in learing how to do this with joy. We’ll see many examples of our fellow “kingfolk” whose battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil can teach and prepare us to know victories of our own, as we continue to clear and extend the path that future generations of believers will walk on their journey for the Lord.
Only the fool looks for the easy path. The followers of Jesus are called to take up our crosses, bear our own burdens, and keep our eyes fixed on the Lord as we serve Him daily. Don’t be surprised by adversity or dismayed by tribulation. Learn how to deal with these so that Jesus will increase in and through you in everything you do.
1. What kinds of trials and tribulations do you expect to encounter in your walk with and work for the Lord?
2. How should you prepare each day for the possibility of tribulation?
Sing Psalm 86.7-9
(Andrews: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
When in my trouble, Lord, I call You, You answer me; there is none like You!
There are no works like Yours, and all whom You have created shall worship You.
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord, be gracious to me;
all shall glory give to You!
Thank You, Lord, for the troubles, trials, and tribulations You allow me to endure. Help me to work through them so that…
The Kingdom Turn
Have you made the Kingdom turn? Are you one of the Lord’s “kingfolk”? If you’re not sure, or you’d like to learn more about life in the Kingdom of God, order a free copy of our book, The Kingdom Turn, by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Stokes, p. 18