Trials and Persecution

Perseverance is often born out of persecution, so the two are forever entwined in our walk of discipleship and sanctification. Whether our walk remains on the narrow road is largely determined by our reaction to the times we face persecution and how we respond.

Let’s agree that here in America, we have it pretty good. Yes, our political climate is circus-like in nature, but we can still freely practice Christianity without fear of arrest, or worse, death. While there are active groups in the USA trying to limit religious freedom, we are still a long way off from other countries around the world where being a Christian is a daily battle just to survive.

History has given us many heroes of the Christian faith who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs. I cannot help but wonder of the 83% of people in the United States who profess to be Christians, if they are willing to suffer to such an end as the martyrs who came before us.

Have you ever asked yourself, how resolute are you in your faith? If you were asked to give your life for belief in Christ this very moment, would you? I would hope my answer would be yes, a yes based upon a faith that God will give me the grace to die well if ever called upon. I have always taken comfort in the Lord's words when He reminded His disciples to not fear those who can just kill the body, but rather fear the One who can kill both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). I know I only have to experience death one time, and that my Lord will be with me all the way through.

Jesus reminds us to rejoice when we’re persecuted (Matthew 5:11-12). Persecution allows for earthly treasures to fade away to a focus more on our eternal reward; it identifies a belief that is superficial at best while strengthening the faith of those who endure and believe—a veritable separation of the wheat from the chaff. Persecution brings a maturity that otherwise could not have developed—just like other times of pain and trial. This kind of growth is derived from a patience developed (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-3).

Our Lord knew that persecution would not end with His death on the cross. He reminded His disciples that the world will hate them because of Him, but if they would endure the trials that were to come, they will be saved (Mark 13:13). This sifting process is a constant process for a Christian and should be welcomed. Genuine believers will accept these trials and come through stronger in their faith.

We speak of our faith in Christ just about every Sunday in church services. Pastors all over the world are constantly challenging their congregants to stand firm in one’s faith and trust in God. How blessed are those who have gone through many trials and have their faith made stronger. Perseverance cannot develop where trials are not experienced.

The challenges of the apostle Paul during his ministry are well known to most. But let us not overlook what Peter endured as well. Throughout his evangelistic campaign, Peter also suffered greatly because of the unbelieving audience gathered around him (1 Peter 1:6-7; 3:13-17; 4:12-19; 5:9), yet his light continued to shine all the way until his last day.

You may say, “Well, I’m no Peter” or “I’m no Paul”, but then I must ask, “Who are you?” You are also a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ just as they were. The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19-20) applies to you as well as those two men.

Challenge yourself today. Step out boldly for Christ and face rejection, should it come. Find some way to interact with a non-believer in a civil manner and test the waters of your faith. Pray that God will lead you to a person who needs to hear the Gospel so you can exercise your faith this very day.

Perseverance is meaningless without enduring trials and persecution.