Day 3: Momentary Afflictions

Story of Théophane Vénard (1829-1861)

French missionary priest Théophane Vénard, born in 1829, was only twenty-three years old when he sailed for China. After serving in Hong Kong for several years, he went to Western Tonkin to minister to nearly ten thousand Chinese Christians who were suffering severe persecution. Théophane was respected even by many of his persecutors for his patient love and gentility. After five years of hiding in caves and preaching secretly at night—and sometimes in broad daylight—he was arrested and imprisoned in a cage, which was suspended in the open air. During that time, he wrote many endearing letters of consolation to his family in France, especially to his brother, Eusebius, and sister, Melanie, for whom he had a special affection. He was finally beheaded on February 2, 1861. The following words are extracts from those letters.

I know the sorrow I will bring to my family.
It has cost me tears of blood to take such a step
and give those I love such pain.
Who is there who cared for home
and family more than I?
All my earthly happiness was to be found there,
But you, O God, who united us with such
tender affection,
weaned me from what I love that
I might serve you.

I do not regret this world;
my soul thirsts for the waters of eternal life.
My exile is over.
I am approaching the soil of my true country;
earth vanishes, heaven opens, I go to God….
About two feet from my cage,
a feeble oil lamp throws a wavering glimmer
on this sheet of Chinese paper
and enables me to trace these few lines.
From day to day, I expect my sentence—perhaps tomorrow….
Within a few hours my soul shall quit this earth,
exile over and battle won.
I shall mount upward and enter into our true home.
There, among God’s elect,
I shall gaze upon what the eye of man cannot imagine,
hear of undreamed-of harmonies,
enjoy a happiness
that the heart cannot remotely comprehend.

Scripture Meditation

16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB

What are your momentary afflictions producing in you?

In prayer, bring such afflictions, and seek after God for this eternal weight of glory that is far beyond all comparison.

Specific Prayer Need

Please pray for John Cao who is currently imprisoned in China. John Cao is a missionary who was working in Myanmar to serve the Kachin people, a persecuted Christian minority. Cao was arrested for a human trafficking offense, but it was because of his Christian work with the Chinese house church and his work with the Kachin people that he was truly arrested. His trial was recently delayed until March in an effort by the Chinese government to have the rest of the world forget about John Cao. Please pray for John Cao. You can even write a letter to him in prison to show that you have not forgotten him. More information can be found at


One Response

  1. I am really shocked to read the words of Theophane Venard! WOW! His expression is incredibly pure and humble. I am especially struck by “But you, O God, who united us with such tender affection, weaned me from what I love that I might serve you.” I am not sure I would ever be able to speak such a sincere utterance. I know that the Lord wants my whole heart and in large portion I want to give him all of me, but the weaning feels more like a total stripping away than something tender and affectionate. I want to get to there. Lord willing!

    Father God, thank You so much for sending us such glorious examples of what it looks like to truly be captivated by Your love and Kingdom. Wow! I am very impressed by the words of Monsieur Venard, and I ask that You never let me forget that phrase “tender affection weaned me from what I love.” Lord, train my own heart to love what You love and to accept the stripping and pulling away from every idol that sets itself against You. Lord, please purify my heart, purify the hearts of us all at The Nations. Lord, give us the faith and strength to walk in sure trust in every and in all circumstances. Whether we walk toward blessings or curses let us keep our eyes fixed upon You! Lord, let us not grow weary or discouraged when we face hardships, but let us with unveiled eyes see You in full glory and share in joy with You. Lord, help us to have a global vision and put our own lives in context. Help us to not avoid trial, but to count them as blessings for how you are shaping and molding us to the image of Christ. Lord, help us to truly be shaped in accordance with Your Will. Let not our suffering be in vain, but let it truly produce patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, for me especially may my afflictions produce self control, and humility.

    Father, I pray for the persecuted church. Please encourage every leader under prison right now. Especially Mr. Gou from Early Rain Church. Your Word assures us that You will supply every need. I agree with Your promises and declare peace and rest over Mr. Gou’s soul. Father, surround his family and bring peace to them as well. Let them not suffer under sorrow, but let them have understanding and trust in who You are and Your goodness. Lord, provide for the families so that they are not without food and money and provision. Let the community that is still free gather around and be strengthened. Let the other members not be discouraged but with even greater resolution turn to You in trust and bring others into the fold. Let those in chains be encouraged for the blessing of sharing with You. Lord, send angels to minister to Your saints and let many come to faith through and in spite of the persecution. Lord, let not the enemy trick us to believe we have lost, but remind all those experiencing hardship for Your namesake that we have victory in Christ. Father, remind them of the Scriptures and truly may Your words be food to the souls of Mr. Gou and others imprisoned.

    Father, thank You for the opportunity to pray with the entire body. Let Your Spirit bind these words and send them forth as a blessing to the persecuted and the imprisoned. Lord, as we set aside time to fast, really impart in us the commitment to do your will all the way to the end. Lord, help us not waver, and especially in the face of trials. Lord, have the glory through our lives now and forever more.

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