World View and Current Events
Praising God for Persecution
Nov 20, 2017

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Daily at Leading The Way, we are moved to praise God for the testimonies of Christians around the world. We marvel at the power of His love to uphold His faithful children. For in the face of utter evil and intense suffering, despite persecution and pain, Christians are giving thanks.

This kind of response goes against our every natural inclination. When we suffer, even experiencing the tiniest inconvenience, our default response is to gripe and complain or, at best, to joke sarcastically about our situation or shrug our shoulders at the brokenness of this world. But that's not what these Christians are doing. In the darkest, most dangerous, and life-threatening circumstances, people around the world are praising God—not just despite their situations, but for their situations.

In the darkest, most dangerous, and life-threatening circumstances, people around the world are praising God—not just despite their situations, but for their situations.

 

Christians Are Not Masochists

Christians do not delight in pain and suffering. We do not seek it out. But we do trust in the Word of God that assures us that when we do suffer, in every trial, God is sovereign: "In all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28). And we know that when we suffer for the name of Christ, we can rejoice because we are blessed, "for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on [us]" (1 Peter 4:14). We delight in the knowledge that this suffering confirms that we belong to Him. And we persevere patiently because we know glory is coming: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

In America and Europe today, people who stand for Biblical morality must be prepared to lose their jobs or live under the threat of economic boycott or other subtle harassments. And a time is coming and may be just at the doorstep when Christians in the West will face the same outright hatred and persecution that our brethren endure in closed countries. So we must begin now to exercise the kind of unwavering faith that leads us to give thanks even in these dire circumstances.

You may think, "I could never endure that; far be it from me, Lord! I would fail." But never forget God is the one who makes you stand firm in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). You can have the kind of faith that persecuted Christians are exhibiting right now around the world that leads them to praise God in the face of extreme suffering. The secret is to relish the Gospel, to taste the Gospel, to feast on the Gospel—that divine story of the love of God and the redemption of our souls through the blood of Jesus, the Son of God.

To the degree that you understand the depth of your need for salvation and the immeasurably precious gift of Christ's sacrifice to secure your salvation—the unfathomable cost of your ransom—your faith will grow strong enough to face any hardship with the peace that surpasses understanding. It's a peace that seems foolish to the world because the world cannot comprehend the ways of God. But we have His Spirit that gives us a deeper vision for life—an eternal one (see Romans 8:14-17). 

By the Holy Spirit, we—along with our persecuted brethren across the globe—are able to rejoice in every circumstance because:

  1. We are counted with Christ: "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" (1 Peter 4:16). (See also Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 3:1-3.)
  2. A greater reward is ours: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:10-12). (See also 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; James 1:12; Revelation 21:1-7.)
  3. We are made more like Christ through suffering: "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:20-21). (See also Romans 5:1-5; Hebrews 12:10-11.)
  4. In affliction, we are comforted by God Himself: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). (See also 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; John 14:16-17; Psalm 119:76; Romans 8:31-39; Psalm 56:8-9; Revelation 21:4.)
This Thanksgiving, as acts of terror increase in the West and faithful Christians endure regular ridicule and slander in the public sphere, let us emulate the example of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Let us take our stand with them, clinging to our certain hope. For if the power of Christ's resurrection tells us anything, it is that if we remain faithful to the end, we too shall be resurrected into eternal life with Jesus. Let us give thanks.