The story of Christendom is characterized by many saints who stood faithful to their Lord in the midst of trouble. Even Peter, who denied the Lord, went on to suffer courageously for Christ. So let me share one of my favorite passages about persecution, 1 Peter 4:12-14.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”
Here are some things we can take away from this wonderful passage to be encouraged when we see our fellow Christians standing strong in persecution or when we are in the middle of a trial ourselves.
1. We are not to be strangers to trials, and we’re not to think something strange is happening to us when we meet them. Even fiery ones are to be expected.
2. A trial has a purpose; it is not meaningless or random. It is to “try” us. It is a test. We know how to take tests. Some are very difficult, especially the fiery ones. But we are to be prepared, up to date in our studies and homework so we can take the test with faith and courage and hope.
3. Our response to fiery trials should be JOY. Why? Because we are being given the privilege in sharing in the suffering of Christ. This seems like a paradox. Rejoice in suffering? Yes. Why? Because we will see how this results in God’s glory, which is what every Christian desires.
4. Our present joy in the trial will turn into glad exceeding joy when His glory is revealed. This is just a foretaste of what is to come.
5. When we are blamed, treated with contempt, scorned, or otherwise mistreated for our Christian faith, we must know that God is blessing us. It is an opportunity given to us and we must be good stewards.
6. When we are being reproached, a remarkable, astounding thing is happening: the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on us. What other explanation can there be for the amazing testimony of the saints in the midst of fiery persecution? God’s glory is resting on them, covering them, strengthening them, and giving them supernatural courage.
7. Finally, this results in God’s glory, which is our chief end. When God is glorified, we are blessed. And when we are blessed, other saints are encouraged to rejoice when they suffer reproach for Christ.
So look for the glory resting on those who are being persecuted right this minute in our very own country. When Doug and I had the privilege of hearing Aaron and Melissa tell their story , we saw that glory resting on them. And our prayers are with them that they will continue to glorify God and receive great and glad blessings.