– Peter Marshall
Blessed by Persecution
When I was a new believer, I took persecution personally. What I didn’t understand was “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10) and that more blessings come your way “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). Don’t you want that? I do!
Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings
I also didn’t understand that when I was being persecuted for sharing my faith, people would turn on me and scorn me. But truth is, “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5), and there’s purpose because of this kind of trouble since “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). Paul’s goal was “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).
If our troubles do nothing more than humble us, then we’ve not wasted our difficulties. God will resist every proud person but will give His grace only to the humble (James 4:6) because humility and humbleness make us more teachable and pliable to God’s work in us through His Spirit. If we are made to be utterly dependent upon God, then we will seek Him at all times and allow Him to teach us how to suffer well. Not one single problem is ever wasted, as Paul wrote “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
God never wastes troubles that come our way. The question is, will we use them as opportunities to receive blessings from persecution, will we understand that we are to share in Christ’s suffering, and will they humble us to make us more receptive to God and His Spirit working in us?