“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:10 NLT)
Following Jesus makes our relationship with God right and makes our relationship with others right. As we trust and obey, He uses us to help make our world right. Yet to reach a world bent toward doing wrong, there is a price to pay. Persecution.
Today I received news from a friend. Several fellow disciples in Central Asia were told to deny their faith or be killed. They stood for Jesus, did what was right and died. It’s shocking and sad. In spite the terrible cost, somehow in faith we must trust Jesus who promised, “the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Recently another friend from a different part of Asia sent me a description of her own experiences with persecution. She confirms, yes, God blesses those who are persecuted. Her story:
It was hard for my family to accept my choice to follow Jesus. To them, Christianity was for the Westerners—we Asians should keep to our religion, traditions and family values. Little did I know, becoming a Christian would mean I would have to stand up for my faith and for what I believe about Jesus. I went through six years of persecution from my family.
In obedience to my parents I did not go to church. God was faithful and proved Himself very real to me during those times. The years of persecution were actually good years where I learned so much more about God and His commitment towards those who love Him and want to do His will. I would say they were bitter and sweet years. Bitter, because of all the persecution I received from my family. Sweet, because through these experiences I learned to totally depend on God. I had no choice. The Lord proved Himself to be very real to me.
During difficult times in my early walk with God, He always faithfully gave me friends to stand with me. Although I could not meet them in the church, I was able to see them secretly. For six years my friends supplied books and teaching tapes from their church, enabling me to continue to build my faith and walk in God. I was never left out in my learning of God. I learned self-discipline. Books became my “teachers.”
Three years into the persecution, I was ready to give up my faith. I remember fasting and praying one day to seek the deliverance of God from the persecution of my family. That particular day, I challenged the Lord to answer my prayer. Instead of answering my prayer, He chose to speak to me and asked me if His grace wasn’t enough for me. It was so real, I heard the Lord call my name. He spoke to me out of the verse, II Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
I broke down and cried before Him. Since then, there is no turning back. I know He is real and is able to carry me through any situation if I would allow Him to. Truly His grace had been sufficient for me during such difficult years. After the day when He spoke to me so clearly and personally, I still had to endure another three years of even worse persecution. Yet just as He promised, His grace was indeed more than enough for me.
Looking back I would say these were my best years in my walk with God. I learned so much about God and sharing with Him the joy of suffering for my faith in Jesus. It made me strong in my commitment and my faith.
Walking in friendship with Jesus, filled with both the desire and ability to do what is right—no matter what. This is the Kingdom Life.
Question for reflection: How willing are you to do what is right even if you must suffer persecution?
Kingdom prayer: Lord Jesus, today many of Your people face severe persecution. We pray as the early church prayed, “And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your Word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal….” Amen.