History records many stories of great heroes of the faith, one of whom was Polycarp. He was a committed Christian living during the time of the Roman Empire. The Caesars thought they were gods, and they wanted the people to start worshipping them as such. The basic routine was for Roman subjects to swear by the genius of Caesar, essentially saying that Caesar is lord. It made the Caesars happy, but it proved to be a dilemma for Christians, because for them, Jesus was Lord.
Among them was Polycarp, who was arrested and brought to the arena. The Roman proconsul gave him a choice: either curse the name of Christ and make a sacrifice to Caesar, or die.
So Polycarp answered, “For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?”
They took him to the stake to be burned, and when the soldier lit the fire, the flames encircled Polycarp but didn’t touch him as he sang praises to God. So he was thrust through with a spear, and his blood extinguished the flames.
“Such a tragedy,” we say. But I don’t think of it as a tragedy. Everyone has to die. The tragedy would have been if Polycarp had denied the Lord. We put so much stock in what happens here and now, but we don’t think about eternity.
Maybe you’re going through a fire of sorts right now, a time of great difficulty. I want to remind you that if you’re a Christian, Jesus Christ is there with you. So don’t lose hope. I know it may seem like there is no end in sight, but take heart. He is with you. And He will see you through it.