White Martyrdom

 Haggerty Exhibitions Past Brink Job

“Some of us are called to a white martyrdom.”

The phrase grabbed my attention last week when I heard it from a friend in Denver. It was a phrase a spiritual director had passed on to him regarding suffering. The spiritual director had used this term to describe a martyrdom that is not instantaneous in one dark moment but is lengthy and may even stretch over many years.

I know people like this, who are called to suffer and do so over extended periods of time. I don’t necessarily understand it nor do I know how to reconcile it with the nature of God, but it consistent with the overwhelming testimony of scripture regarding the role of suffering in the lives of those who follow Jesus.

We often joke of how the “gift of martyrdom” gets exercised only once, but if white martyrdom is a reality, that gift is probably much more widespread and practiced than I ever imagined.

2 Responses to “White Martyrdom”

  1. Patrick Says:

    I think it is widespread. But the thing with suffering is that it hides people. They disappear into the shadows, don’t stand out. It becomes a place of loneliness and isolation. Not so different than the ‘green’ martyrdom of leaving ones homeland. Except everything stays familiar but everything also changes. People drop off and away.

    What’s also interesting, to me at least, is that once you go through it you can recognize it in others. It becomes a ministry. A ministry among the shadows where words of comfort, hope, restoration can make the difference between profound inner suffering and struggling renewal.

    It is also, I think, a place of training. A Philippians 2 place, where God breaks down a person for all they think they are or can offer, and rebuilds them with a humility and love. St. Patrick during his time of slavery is a physical representation of this. It’s a bondage but a bondage that either destroys or makes it so a person prays, and prays, and prays, learning faith when there is utterly nothing.

    Then God might use them for a special purpose.

    It’s the martyrdom that I think builds the special forces of God’s Kingdom.

  2. Ryan Says:

    Two scriptues come to mind:

    Joh 12:24 I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain.

    Its obvious that the immediate context was Jesus referring to himself, but, as followers of Jesus, when we willingly fall into that pattern, we allow him to “make us come forth like gold (Job 23:10), then his work can truly be done in our lives and his Kingdom expanded.

    Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up-for the sake of his body, the church-what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

    In a sense, there is a portion of Christ’s ministerial sufferings that were left for us to endure as we follow his will and seek to accomplish his Kingdom purposes.

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