Did you know that suffering and persecution was actually promised by Jesus for His faithful followers? Did you know that persecution for bearing His name is actually a BLESSING because His perfect Spirit is resting upon you?
This is not to say as God’s children we are to be trouble makers…rather that even when we put our heads down and heart’s out there to serve Him, sometimes trouble finds us…
But how should we manage?
I have written about this topic before, as it is so very real. I have asserted we must pray for our persecutors, forgive them, bless them and not curse them – doing as Jesus commands us to do. While this is very necessary, there is also the needed determination to continue faithfully serving, which I want to focus on today.
1 Peter 4:19 says;‘Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful creator, while continuing to do good.’ (NRSV)
This verse is jam packed with such important theology for us Christians…
‘Suffering in accordance with God’s will’ – Yep, God’s will can involve Christian suffering! We MUST understand this as it HELPS us to ward off negative thoughts that the enemy may try to plant in our minds…thoughts like, perhaps we are not a good enough Christian because we are suffering…You see, the enemy wants to stop us serving and reaching others for God’s Kingdom…the enemy wants the suffering to make us quit!
Now this is NOT talking about suffering for poor ungodly choices…Suffering for our poor choices, I think, can actually be easier to understand in our own minds. Do you know what I mean? For if I know I lost my cool with someone unnecessarily and hurt them, I am more easily able to understand the consequence of their reaction and the impact upon our relationship. Yet when I suffer from someone for no obvious reason, this can really be confusing, hurtful and impact my personal self-esteem…
I am NOT saying my walk is perfect…but sometimes I have been faithful and still encountered things like:
· Over-demanding, childish, selfish pressure from others to do more than I am comfortable with doing as a Christian
· Plain rude, critical, unwarranted comments that seem to come from no-where
· Negative, unfounded and unnecessary comments about my Christian walk
· Straight out attack and ridicule for my Christian faith
· Loss of friendships and isolation for being different
1 Peter talks about us not being surprised at the sufferings we undergo for bearing Christ’s Name (1 Peter 4:12-13) and says we should REJOICE to share in Christ’s sufferings…Yep, rejoice, because we are like Christ. And after all isn’t that part of being a Christian, to become like Him? Later in 5:9, we are encouraged with the fact that our persecution and suffering is not unique to us alone, it’s actually shared by our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world.
So when we accept our suffering as part of being a faithful Christian, we are encouraged to entrust ourselves to our faithful creator while continuing to do good…
The attitude of our mind is so important, we MUST have the mind of Christ in us or else we will shrink under the unfounded attack of persecution and the pressure of suffering.
We have the mind of Christ through the blessed Holy Spirit and feeding on the Word.
As Christians we need a transformed MIND, along with heart and our minds are transformed by scripture, made alive to us through the Holy Spirit.
When we feast upon His Word, we are calmed and refocused to be able to TRUST Him in all circumstances…not just the good times and then we are able to continuing doing GOOD for His Kingdom and glory.
I have found when I focus upon the TRUTH found in scripture and continue to do good, I am encouraged and strengthen, rather than defeated. When I ignore the enemy, by not listening to negative thoughts or dwelling on feeling sorry for myself because of my sufferings, and reach out to others in Christ’s love, I feel Him carrying me and strengthening me…and it’s not usually too long a wait until I feel His joy rising up within me again.
So, just as Peter advises, if you’re suffering, TRUST Him and continue to do good! Feed on His Word to have a transformed attitude, relying upon His strength to enable you to keep faithfully serving...and remember you are not alone, we all come under attack.
In His service, Melanie.
Let me leave you with this song, to help you remember that we are His people, carrying His Name, bearing His love, to move mountains with Him while we wait faithfully for His Kingdom to come!