Do you know the difference between suffering and persecution? Suffering falls upon everyone like mental illnesses, diseases, hardships, and pain. However, persecution is when people suffer because of their beliefs and faith. Every single person living in this world has suffered, but not everyone has experienced persecution. The big question is why do Christians experience persecution? Hasn’t Jesus already dealt with our pain on the cross? If God is so good, why are his people still suffering? Has he deserted them?
Why don’t we look at the Bible for the truth and answers to these questions?
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
(2 Timothy 3:12 NLT)
“Jesus Himself said that those who follow Him will be persecuted for His name’s sake.” (Matthew 10:22)
For the glory of Jesus, we are invited and granted the privilege of persecution. Let me explain the meaning of persecution so we are all clear about what the word means.
Persecution can be described as harassing, oppressing, or killing because people choose to obey Christ over human law or to please humans. This definition always reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as they didn’t bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar II and then were thrown into a burning furnace. (Daniel 3)
For Christians, this means we can be persecuted for our belief in Jesus when we decide to follow Christ over this unholy and sinful world. Although the majority of us may not be murdered because of our beliefs, we might fear being ignored, despised, attacked, or shamed.
But what’s the point of persecution? Why are we “granted” the opportunity to be persecuted for His name’s sake?
3 Advantages of Persecution
- The Gospel is preached, and the Church grows.
The church grows along with persecution. There are so many instances of doubters who, after experiencing persecution, ended up turning to Jesus. Suffering and persecution of Christians from generations ago drive Christians nowadays to spread the Word of God. Everyone’s experiences are totally different, when you experience suffering you are enabled to tell the gospel from a new point of view allowing you to touch and reach many more lives than if you hadn’t experienced it. It may even convince people to believe that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour.
- Preserving persecution can form your character to become more like Christ and allow you to experience Christ in a new way.
Our patience while suffering builds character and inspires us to hope. When we struggle, we are inclined to have faith in God, and that’s what brings us closer to God in addition to being more like his son. The moment we are persecuted, we can rest in the thought that Jesus understands our pain because he himself went through all the suffering that we experienced when he was a human like us.
- Going through persecution glorifies God and develops your spiritual strength.
Isn’t our purpose in life to glorify God?
“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
(1 Corinthians 6:20)
Therefore, whatever we do, whatever we go through, we do it for the glory of God. God is able to demonstrate his power through our weaknesses. Because of this, when we face persecution, we can rely on the Lord and have faith that He will carry us through. If God led us in it, he’s going to lead us through it and bring us out of it.
Jesus assures that those who go through struggles on earth will be blessed in heaven. In the middle of our persecution on earth, it’s valuable to keep in mind that this is not where we will wrap it up; rather, God will grant us the reward of persecution.
What does the Bible say about the reward of persecution?
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
How do we continue to live through persecution?
- Brush up your mind.
During times of suffering, we must visit the Word of God. Whenever we can hear, speak, and find the Word of God, we must ask Jesus for help to let those words sink into our minds. To make good choices, we need the truth stored in our minds. We need the Word of God stored in our minds every moment of our life, for we can never guess what is coming next.
- Promise to God.
In your heart, promise God that whatever happens, you wouldn’t turn back from him. Ask God to protect you like how a shepherd protects his sheep. Request strength and patience to deal with all the suffering. Come to God first, not last.
- Look at things from an everlasting point of view.
According to Ephesians 6, our battle is not with people of flesh and blood, but rather “against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” Once we are familiar with persecution’s purpose and stand firm with the Lord, we receive ultimate victory.
Now the bigger question is: are we willing to stand firm for our faith and commit to God even when the world’s weight is on our shoulders?