A Biblical Response to Sufferings and Persecutions

Last week, after I hit “Publish” on the blog article, I was pretty confident that this response article would easily come together and form itself. Needless to say, it did not happen that way.

The events of the past week have given me a behind-the-scenes look at suffering. In a surprising turn of events, I was the one who needed to be comforted. Without knowing which way was up, I stumbled through cloudy darkness with only a little light on my path. How precious was that light for sure! Through many therapeutic verbal sessions with people deeply invested in my life, I was able to press forward into healing. My situation was very, very minor compared to other significant catastrophes happening to others right now, but I still feel the weight of the lesson. I praise God that healing can be found in the valley!

Find Joy. You will never be able to be thankful for nothing. There will always be something to thank God for! If you really want to defeat worry and self-pity, find one thing to delight in, and cling to that one thing.

Phillippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice!”

Commune with God. Imagine a stonemason, a gardener, a carpenter, an artist, or a potter growing  a miracle, or designing a tool or work of art. You are the first prototype — there is none like you! There will be times when he stands back to watch you grow, when the sun shines and all is well. But then there are other times, when He will chip away, or flood your life, or dab some paint, or add some pressure to a un unsightly lump. These are times when The Master draws near. His presence is not only felt, but also seen in the changes in your world. Appreciate it! Be grateful for His attention, for He is the

“God that doest wonders.” Psalm 77:14

“His work is honourable and glorious.” Psalm 111:3

Forgive. It’s our Divine Command. It is only after we let go of our pride and give up our right to receive an apology, and submit ourselves to our offenders in forgiveness that we can again have peace in our hearts.

 “For if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6:15

Look for the End Result. You have to believe that this fiery trial is intended for the future. And what happens to gold after it goes the fire? You’ve heard it all your life, so you tell me. Your life will be richer — from your treasure house of experience, you will be able to identify with others who hurt, healing them in the very times they can feel your love the most.

“We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalm 66:12

3 Reasons to Expect Persecution

  1. The world hated Jesus, so it follows that it will also hate us, His followers.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. -John 15:18

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. -2 Timothy 3:12

There will always be ‘hardships’ wherever we go. For example, when we commit to a new job, we accept that it will be a little rough for the first week or two, because it takes time to learn the names of your coworkers, the skills for every task, and the vision needed to benefit the company who pays you. As the weeks pass and the newness wears off, the everyday tasks will become humdrum and less meaningful than they were at the beginning. And then when you’re a few years in, the will to keep slugging through will disappear, and it’s all you can do to drag your feet to work. You’d rather be anywhere else than there! But at the end of the year, when you look back and see the fruits of your labour and you receive recognition from your employer, you overflow with gratefulness that you stayed faithful to your job and gave it your best effort!

Why don’t we apply that same level of commitment to our love life in God?

Long before His own crucifixion, Jesus predicted that the hard times that would come upon His disciples and all who would spread the Gospel. And long before it would be our turn to suffer, He meekly bore the instrument of His own death, taking mocking and all manner of injustices for our sakes!

  1. We are in the last days.

But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. –Luke 21:12

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. -2 Timothy 3:1-5

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. –Revelation 17:6

Jesus, Paul, and John each had a vision about how persecution would be heavy in the last days. They all warned us about it, and told us how to get ready. We can’t say, We didn’t know! If Scripture predicted it, we know it’s a definite reality! We should be preparing for it as a certain event.

  1. A sign of light among darkness, good among evil, right among wrong.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hath my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. –John 15:21-25

Where there is good, there will always be opposition. Can there be light without shadows? People do not like to be proven wrong and shown their faults. When we come along, living our lives in faithful obedience to an unseen God Who shows up in our lives with real, tangible, daily blessings, that smacks in the faces of those who are trying to do it all by themselves. When we stand up to them for some preposterous, absurd, inner, obscure belief, I believe they see something they wish they had. When we would rather give up our lives than submit to an evil practice, it is a sign of open rebellion against their carefully constructed rules and systems.

But Jesus did not leave us with only a warning!

Coming soon will be a response to persecution.

The Waterfall

There’s a place he goes to get away. It’s down a steeeep hill, across several gullies and hills, at the end of a stream, beside a waterfall. Far, far away from the disturbance of road traffic or the sight of manufacturing plants. Hidden by acres of woods, and pocketed by ravines. When he wants to decide something, mourn a loss, think about a problem, or be alone, he sits on the rock. It’s his cathedral, where he goes to sit next to what’s in his heart. His wife knows him, lets him go, and welcomes him back. We, his coworkers hear about it through what it’s been doing lately. The waterfall’s really running right now, he says after it’s rained. Come spring, the waterfall gave me a lot of mushrooms yesterday. When it’s been dry for several weeks, I lost my waterfall. This is what completes his backwoods, redneck, funny-man character. This is part of his other side. The side that labors for hours on his exotic birds, reads a book a week in the winter, and is my steady counsel when it comes to ordering boneless pork shoulders.

So when he invited us to see this place, we couldn’t refuse. Our eyes were opened and we saw another side of him we didn’t know existed. It was stunning, and we’ll talk about it for years.