One winter when the Roman emperor Licinius was persecuting the Christians, his Thundering Legion was stationed at Sebaste. Because 40 men in that company had declared themselves believers, they were sentenced to spend the night naked on a frozen pool. A large fire was kindled in a house nearby, and food and a warm bath were prepared for any who would renounce their faith. As daylight faded, 40 warriors continued to resist in spite of the bitter coldsome walking quickly to and fro, some already sleeping that sleep which ends in death, and some standing lost in prayer. These words arose to Heaven, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!” Finally, one of them could endure the suffering no longer. He left the others and went into the house where Sempronius and his men were on guard. But still the petition went up from those able to speak, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!” Their prayer was answered. Sempronius the centurion was touched by his comrades bravery, and the Holy Spirit moved upon his heart. Declaring himself a Christian, he went to the frozen pond and took the place of the one defector. When the long night was over, 40 glorious spirits, Sempronius among them, had entered into the presence of Christ.
If severe testing or persecution arises, will you, will I, be faithful to Christ? By His grace may we be able to say, “Let God be glorified, whether it be by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). -H.G.B.