A family from a bustling New York city decided to live a quieter life. So they bought a cattle ranch in a rural area, stocked it with cattle, and settled down. Now all they had to do was come up with a name for their ranch. The father liked “The Bar J.” His wife fancied “The Suzy Q.” His oldest son chose “The Flying W.” His youngest son preferred “The Lazy Y.” Since they could not decide on which name to use, they compromised and used each name to form “The Bar J-Suzy Q-Flying W-Lazy Y Ranch.”

Shortly thereafter, a friend of the family visited them at their new property. He noticed it was very quiet outside and asked, “Where are all the cattle?”

The farmer wistfully replied, “They didn’t survive the branding.”

A farmer brands his sheep or cattle to identify them as his own. In a similar way God sets His children apart through suffering. Some might chafe at this, thinking, if this is the way God treats His children, then I want no part of Christianity. The reality is that through the intense heat of suffering, God purifies and refines His children so they become trophies of His grace. The only way Christians can survive “the branding” is to persevere through it. Instead of concentrating on the trial before them, they must focus on the ultimate victory awaiting them. A Christian who perseveres through suffering and brings glory to God in his adversity is the most powerful testimony to the world.

Christ suffered. You will suffer, too. Your body might be wracked with pain following a debilitating injury. You might feel numb because people you love are seeking to do you harm. All of our difficulties are part of God’s branding process. If we persevere through them, His blessings in our lives will let everyone know that we belong to Him.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.