11 May Suffering and Persecution
For doing what is right. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed” (1 Pet.3:14). When our doing what is right is not appreciated by others, or when it affects others adversely, they may take their revenge on us.
For doing what is good. “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1Pet.3:17). Those who are lovers of evil do not like those who are lovers of good. Evil people take their venom on those who are good. It makes them feel better.
For being a Christian. “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be shamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1Pet.4:16). Sometimes, Christians are persecuted because those who are not Christians misunderstand them. They think that Christians are not loyal to their country and try to convert others to their religion. They despise them thinking that Christians are converts from the low caste.
For it is God’s will. “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1Pet.4:19).
God uses these sufferings and persecutions to refine our faith like pure gold. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fi re – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pet.1:7).
When we undergo suffering and persecution we must remember those who experienced before us:
The Old Testament prophets: They were mocked, ridiculed and killed for no fault of their own. “But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of God rose against the people, until there was no remedy” (2Chron.36:16).
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” Mt.5:12). The only reason of their suffering and persecution was that they called the wicked people to the paths of righteousness.
Christ: He knew no sin, yet suffered at the hand of sinners and said that we would suffer too. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. . .” (Jn 15:20). “. . .you will be hated by all for my name sake” (Mt.10:22). When the head of the house has been insulted and humiliated and killed, the members of his household cannot expect anything different.
The apostles, for preaching the Gospel. “. . . they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:40). “Then they cast him (Stephen) out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:58). “He killed James the brother of John with the sword (Acts 12:2). “. . . An attempt was made by both gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them” (Acts 14:5). “. . .they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garment off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. (Acts 16:22-24). “…when they saw the
tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul” (Acts 21:30-32).
The believers: Thessalonian believers suffered at the hands of their own countrymen. “… you received the word in much
affliction” (1 Thes.1:6). “…you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,” (1 Thes. 2:14). “…
that no one be moved by these afflictions (1 Thes. 3:3). Paul had cautioned the Thessalonian believers that they were destined to suffer. “For you yourselves know that we were destined for this (1 Thes. 3:3). He had warned Philippian believers that it was granted to them not only to believe but to suffer also for the Lord. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil.1:29). The scattered believers whom Peter addresses in his epistles were undergoing severe sufferings and persecutions (1 Pet.1:6; 3:14,17; 4:12-16, 19). So what should we do if we find ourselves under the thick of sufferings and persecutions?
Do not be surprised (1 Pet.4:12). Nothing strange is happening. We are just participating in the sufferings of Christ. We need to rejoice. We are blessed people if we are insulted because of the name of Christ. The Spirit of glory and of God is resting on us (Vs.13, 14).
Do not get unsettled (1 Thes. 3:3). We were destined for these. The tendency will be to go back on our faith and commitment. Take care not to shrink back. If we do so God will not be pleased. Do not throw away your confidence. It will be richly rewarded. We need to persevere so that we may receive what He has promised us (Heb. 10:32-39). Remember only he who stands firm till the end will be saved (Mt. 24:13).
Do not be ashamed (1 Pet. 4:16). But praise God that you bear the name of your Savior. When the apostles were flogged they left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). Count it as an honour to suffer for the Lord. So we need to rejoice and be glad (Mt. 5:12; 1 Pet. 4:13). Be faithful till death (Rev. 2:10). Our enemies can infl ict only physical, mental, emotional, social and economic pain. They can only destroy only this body. They cannot touch our soul. So
we need not be afraid of them (Mt.10:28). Also, even if we die, we will live again. The eternal life is ours. Remember, he who stands till the end will be saved (Mt.10:22).
Pray (Mt.5:44). Pray for those who persecute you. Pray that you will persevere till the end. Pray for God to rescue you from the hand of your enemies and to enable you to serve Him without fear in holiness and in righteousness before Him all your lives (Lk.1:74, 75). Pray ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Tim. 2:2).
Commit yourself to God and continue to do what is good (1 Pet.4:19). May God give us grace and mercy that when we have to undergo sufferings and persecutions we will come out unscathed and triumphant. It is easy to read and write on these matters but may God enable us that in all these things we will be more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37)
About the Author
The author Richard Masih is former UESI Staff now ministers at large based at New Delhi. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org