“Mister, a champion must learn to bleed a little.” Rocky’s wife said this to a reporter after Rocky suffered badly in a fight. (From the film “Rocky”)
As Christians we should never be surprised when we experience persecution and injustice. Persecution is part of a Christian’s life. A large part of the teaching of Jesus and a large part of Paul’s letters and the rest of the new Testament, deal with persecution and attacks on Christians.
God, in His eternal wisdom decided to allow persecution in our lives for His own reasons. Sometimes the Lord removes the persecution, but it will return, even if in a different form.
Persecution comes in different ways: First it comes from the world that does not want to live in obedience to the will and commands of the Lord. The second and more difficult form of persecution is when it comes from the church or from fellow-Christians. Many Christians are so disillusioned when they experience persecution from fellow-Christians that they often lose their faith. Remember that it has been like this through the ages and it will always be like this, until the last day.
Persecution is never out of God’s control.
We have to remember a number of important things during persecution:
- Persecution is temporary. It does not last forever. God will not allow it for longer than what He sees fit. Persecution is never out of God’s control. William Carey, a pioneer missionary to India commented once: “There are overwhelming problems all around us and more ahead of us… that is why we have to go ahead.”
- God is the Potter. He decides in which oven the clay should be baked and how hot the oven should be. Never allow bitterness against God during persecution. God knows what He is doing and why He allows it.
- We should carefully guard our attitude. Usually we cannot do anything about the persecution, but we have control over our attitude. Guard your heart and your attitude. Do not allow hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, revenge and retribution in your life.
- Understand that it is often during persecution that Christians and the church grow. When everything runs smoothly people often grow slowly, but persecution and opposition cause us to live much closer to God and therefore we grow faster. Let us, however, never pray for persecution so that the church can grow. This is not biblical.
- Never believe the lie that God is not in perfect control of your life, regardless of circumstances. Even if it is Satan who directly attacks you, he can only go as far as God allows him. God is in control of your life. Remember Job.
Portions of Scripture for prayer
Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut.33:12,27)
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you save me. (2 Sam.22:3)
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD make me dwell in safety. (Ps.4:8)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. (Ps.46:1)
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Ps.91:11)
Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm. (Ps.105:15)
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. (Prov.16:7)
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Prov.18:10)
Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. (Prov.20:22)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isa.43:2-3)
“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD. (Isa.54:17)
“I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD. “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel.” (Jer.15:20- 1)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matt.5:5)
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’But I tell you: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?’ (Matt.5:43-46)
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. (Luk.6:22-23)
But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. (Luk.21:12-15)
All men will hate you because of me.
All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life. (Luk.21:17-19)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luk.23:34)
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (John 15:18-21)
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom.8:31-32) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom.12:19-21)
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor.1:5)
But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1 Pet.2:20)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Pet.3:9)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Pet.4:12-14)
Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev.2:10)