Persecution & Suffering: 49

Here is a list of benefits of persecution and suffering if we respond well:

(These are taken from the verses quoted in the blog series.)

Position us to bless others

Test and refine and prove us and our faith

Give us hope

Show us God’s love is unstoppable and He is good and is all we need

Show us God is listening and is near

Bless us

Comfort us

Equip us to comfort others

Prepare us to inherit the Kingdom of heaven

Increase our reward in heaven

Discover our true and real life in the Lord

Help us know Jesus more intimately

Help us become more like Christ and identify with Him more fully

Help us gain more of Jesus’ character

Demonstrate the permanency and power of God’s love for us

Save our lives

Cause us to bear more fruit

Teach us peace

Teach us to hope in our future eternal comfort and blessing

Demonstrate God’s trust in us and honor of us

Give us joy

Announce God’s message broadly

Encourage others in their faith

Show our love to our brothers and sisters in the faith

Shows our worthiness for the Kingdom

Makes room for God’s justice

Shows God’s power in us

Demonstrates God’s life in us

Foreshadows our future glorification (like Jesus’ resurrection)

Causes others to be drawn to the Lord

Results in thanksgiving from others for our sacrificial ministry

Renews us day by day through the Lord

Earns eternal reward

Proves our genuineness

Validates our ministry

Validates our words

Makes our lives known

Enriches the lives of others

Shows where our true riches are, where our hearts are

Keeps us humble

Gives us perseverance, godly character, and hope

Honors us

Shows we are God’s children and heirs of His glory

Demonstrates our conquering lives in the Lord

Advances the gospel

Gives confidence to fellow-believers

Demonstrates our faith in the Lord, which is our righteousness

Shows us the power of Jesus’ resurrection, and helps us share in it

Provides access to Jesus’ life and helps us reign with Him in eternity

Gives us strength to stand

Crowns us with glory and honor

Perfects us

Teaches us obedience

Causes the Lord to be especially attentive to our prayers

Enables us to experience better and lasting possessions

Is a pathway to receive God’s promises

Is the way of salvation

Shows the world is not worthy but the Lord is

Is an opportunity for amazing victories that will glorify the Lord

Is a way the Lord teaches us discipline

Grows us in holiness

Produces a harvest of righteousness and peace in our lives

Produces endurance and perfects us and makes us complete in the Lord

Enables God to demonstrate His compassion and mercy

Proves the genuineness of our faith

Results in praise, glory and honor to the Lord

Helps us find favor with God

Fulfills our calling

Shames the enemies of the Kingdom

Helps free us from sin’s allure

Causes us to live more fully for God’s will and desires

Increases our future joy

Increases the glory of God in our lives and the fullness of the Holy Spirit

Will result in our restoration, strengthening, firmness, and steadfastness

Results in our receiving the victor’s crown

Achieves God’s good purposes in our lives

 

Desired Responses to persecution and suffering for doing what is right:

 

Think about God’s perspective on it

Wait for the Lord and rely on Him for relief

Hope in the Lord and seek Him

Quietly submit to the Lord

Humbly respond to the Lord and to the human agents

Do not grumble or complain

Examine our lives

Worship the Lord

Call out to the Lord

Do not fear

Mourn

Commit our lives to a life of difficult service

Do not be distracted from Kingdom purposes

Seek to please the Lord in the midst of it

Act righteously, even when it will result in persecution

Rejoice greatly

Be glad

Do not resist evil people acting against you

Love your enemies

Pray for those who persecute you

Love God more than anyone, including family members

Count the Lord as more important than anything in life

Be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ

Deny your own will and desires and serve Christ’s purposes daily

Do not be selfish or conceited

Humbly consider others as more important than yourself and serve their interests

Do not use your position to your advantage but rather to serve others

Humble yourself by being willing to suffer for others benefit

Be encouraged

Continue proclaiming the good news of Jesus publicly and privately

Continue teaching others about the Kingdom life publicly and privately

Promote the Kingdom wherever you go

Welcome instruction about the Kingdom even when it leads to suffering

Model service despite suffering for other believers

Imitate followers of Christ who suffer well for serving the Lord

Persevere, demonstrate faith, and endure

Be filled with the Spirit

View the trials as identification with Christ and for His sake

Continue to speak the truths of the Kingdom that you have believed

Do not lose heart

Fix your eyes on the unseen and eternal realities rather than your present situation

Do not cause others to stumble

Show great endurance through every kind of unpleasant circumstance and situation

Live out purity, understanding, patience and kindness

Demonstrate a Spirit-filled life of sincere love, truthful speech and godly power

Show forth righteous living in spiritual warfare in the face of any response

Be content with being considered false, being beaten, poor, sorrowful and dying

Work hard for the Kingdom

Be willing to face every kind of difficulty, danger, discomfort, and sorrow

Be concerned for others welfare

Boast in your weakness

Delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties

Glory in your sufferings

Share in Christ’s sufferings

Consider yourself to be a sheep to be slaughtered and sacrificed

Be willing to lose your freedom

Count any and every earthly thing as a loss compared to knowing Christ

Participate in Jesus’ suffering and death willingly

Intentionally suffer through self-discipline as a sacrifice of service

Seek to please the Lord

Consider your service and sacrifice as the “least you can do”

Die to self with Jesus

Persevere

Practice the Lord’s commands

Serve as Christ’s ambassador and represent His desires and ways to others

Fervently pray with cries and tears to the Lord for His relief

Reverently submit to God

Remember God’s faithfulness in past suffering

Stand with others who are suffering and join them in it

Joyfully accept the confiscation of your property

Live by faith

Do not shrink back from serving or speaking for the Lord

Choose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than hiding your citizenship to escape

Value the treasures of God more than the treasures of this world

Embrace any sacrifice the Lord calls on you to make

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

Keep God’s commands

Welcome and choose every form of opposition and pain and discomfort for God’s sake

Resist and struggle against sin, even to death

Do not make light of discipline

Do not lose heart

Endure hardship, knowing its benefits

Respect God and submit to Him

Consider it pure joy

Let endurance have its full result

Be patient and persevere

Bear up under unjust suffering

Patiently endure unjust suffering

Do not commit sin or deceive to escape it.

Do not lash out at those causing you pain

Do not threaten

Entrust yourself to God who will judge righteously

Do not fear threats or be frightened

Revere Christ as Lord

Be prepared to give a witness for your hope, with gentleness and respect

Arm yourself with the purpose to suffer as Christ did and with His attitude

Do not be surprised at fiery ordeals and tests, they are expected and normal

Rejoice at the opportunity to share in Jesus’ sufferings

Be alert and of sober mind

Resist the devil, firm in your faith

Be aware that believers around the world are suffering for their faith

Do not be afraid of future suffering

Be faithful to the point of death

Persecution & Suffering: 48

Here is a summary of the desired responses we are to have to suffering:

(These are taken from the verses quoted in the blog series.)

Think about God’s perspective on it

Wait for the Lord and rely on Him for relief

Hope in the Lord and seek Him

Quietly submit to the Lord

Humbly respond to the Lord and to the human agents

Do not grumble or complain

Examine our lives

Worship the Lord

Call out to the Lord

Do not fear

Mourn

Commit our lives to a life of difficult service

Do not be distracted from Kingdom purposes

Seek to please the Lord in the midst of it

Act righteously, even when it will result in persecution

Rejoice greatly

Be glad

Do not resist evil people acting against you

Love your enemies

Pray for those who persecute you

Love God more than anyone, including family members

Count the Lord as more important than anything in life

Be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ

Deny your own will and desires and serve Christ’s purposes daily

Do not be selfish or conceited

Humbly consider others as more important than yourself and serve their interests

Do not use your position to your advantage but rather to serve others

Humble yourself by being willing to suffer for others benefit

Be encouraged

Continue proclaiming the good news of Jesus publicly and privately

Continue teaching others about the Kingdom life publicly and privately

Promote the Kingdom wherever you go

Welcome instruction about the Kingdom even when it leads to suffering

Model service despite suffering for other believers

Imitate followers of Christ who suffer well for serving the Lord

Persevere, demonstrate faith, and endure

Be filled with the Spirit

View the trials as identification with Christ and for His sake

Continue to speak the truths of the Kingdom that you have believed

Do not lose heart

Fix your eyes on the unseen and eternal realities rather than your present situation

Do not cause others to stumble

Show great endurance through every kind of unpleasant circumstance and situation

Live out purity, understanding, patience and kindness

Demonstrate a Spirit-filled life of sincere love, truthful speech and godly power

Show forth righteous living in spiritual warfare in the face of any response

Be content with being considered false, being beaten, poor, sorrowful and dying

Work hard for the Kingdom

Be willing to face every kind of difficulty, danger, discomfort, and sorrow

Be concerned for others welfare

Boast in your weakness

Delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties

Glory in your sufferings

Share in Christ’s sufferings

Consider yourself to be a sheep to be slaughtered and sacrificed

Be willing to lose your freedom

Count any and every earthly thing as a loss compared to knowing Christ

Participate in Jesus’ suffering and death willingly

Intentionally suffer through self-discipline as a sacrifice of service

Seek to please the Lord

Consider your service and sacrifice as the “least you can do”

Die to self with Jesus

Persevere

Practice the Lord’s commands

Serve as Christ’s ambassador and represent His desires and ways to others

Fervently pray with cries and tears to the Lord for His relief

Reverently submit to God

Remember God’s faithfulness in past suffering

Stand with others who are suffering and join them in it

Joyfully accept the confiscation of your property

Live by faith

Do not shrink back from serving or speaking for the Lord

Choose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than hiding your citizenship to escape

Value the treasures of God more than the treasures of this world

Embrace any sacrifice the Lord calls on you to make

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

Keep God’s commands

Welcome and choose every form of opposition and pain and discomfort for God’s sake

Resist and struggle against sin, even to death

Do not make light of discipline

Do not lose heart

Endure hardship, knowing its benefits

Respect God and submit to Him

Consider it pure joy

Let endurance have its full result

Be patient and persevere

Bear up under unjust suffering

Patiently endure unjust suffering

Do not commit sin or deceive to escape it.

Do not lash out at those causing you pain

Do not threaten

Entrust yourself to God who will judge righteously

Do not fear threats or be frightened

Revere Christ as Lord

Be prepared to give a witness for your hope, with gentleness and respect

Arm yourself with the purpose to suffer as Christ did and with His attitude

Do not be surprised at fiery ordeals and tests, they are expected and normal

Rejoice at the opportunity to share in Jesus’ sufferings

Be alert and of sober mind

Resist the devil, firm in your faith

Be aware that believers around the world are suffering for their faith

Do not be afraid of future suffering

Be faithful to the point of death

Persecution & Suffering: 47

In Revelation 2:10, Jesus says to the church in Smyrna through John, “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 life as your victor’s crown.”

This is another example of how the Lord uses the attacks of the enemy to accomplish His purposes. The church in Smyrna was allowed to suffer, including imprisonment and death. God used it to test them. When they passed the test the Lord would reward them with a victor’s crown to wear through all eternity in His presence.

As Psalm 30:5b says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” This is the encouragement and hope we have, no matter how bitter the trials and tribulations may become. God in His wisdom and mercy turns all of it to our good and His glory. What the enemy intends for evil, God uses for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Persecution & Suffering: 46

1 Peter 5:8-10 tells us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

In other words, God will renew us, strengthen us, and make us strong and persevering by means of the suffering. This is all in preparation for eternity. God is building capabilities and character in us that we will reap the benefits from forever. Specifically, suffering is meant to increase our endurance, character and hope. This relatively short period of suffering gives us eternal blessings.

In order for us to reap these benefits we need to stand firm and resist in faith, faith that God will sustain us and give us these blessings. We can also take heart in the knowledge of how the Lord is sustaining our brothers and sisters around the world by His grace in their sufferings. We can do this only if we are alert and serious. We must pay attention to the intentions of the enemy, resisting him at every turn.

Persecution & Suffering: 45

1 Peter 4:12-14 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as 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.”

We can see from this passage that it is through our sufferings that we can most closely identify with Him. God’s presence with us and within us is somehow made more real and substantial when we suffer for Him and because of Him. This is a blessing and a cause for joy.

In some way, we experience Jesus’ glory when we suffer for Him. Even more significantly, we will share His future glory when He returns. This is a cause for great rejoicing now and will be a cause for even greater joy when He returns. Peter tells us that this suffering is to be expected. It is normal. We should not be surprised at it. It will come and it will be severe if we are truly following Him. This is a test of our faith. How we respond to it matters. This is part of our seemingly upside-down Kingdom. Rejoice at these fiery ordeals!

Persecution & Suffering: 44

In 1 Peter 4:1-2, Peter tells us, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.  As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

What Peter has in view here is our identification with Christ. He is our forerunner. He is our model. He denied His own desires, comfort, will, and safety, in order to obey God’s purposes in all these areas. He did not live for sin but for the heavenly Father.

Sin is anything we think, do, say, or fail to do, think or say that is different from the Father’s will. Jesus said what the Father told Him to say and nothing else. He did what the Father guided Him to do and nothing else. In so doing, He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will in and through His life. He reflected the Father.

All this was achieved through Jesus’ suffering. We are called to suffer in the same way, denying ourselves, taking up our “cross” daily, and following Him and His example (Luke 9:23). Thus, in a sense, our sanctification, our being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29), and our being guided into the good works that God prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), are all accomplished through the means of suffering.

Persecution & Suffering: 43

In 1 Peter 3:13-17, Peter asks, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?   But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

In this passage, Peter says we are always to look for opportunities to share the message of the Kingdom, and to do so in a gentle and respectful manner. We are to constantly model irreproachably good behavior. We are to be fearless in the face of threats and attacks. He notes that sometimes it is God’s will for us to suffer for doing what is right. When that happens, we are blessed.

I am reminded of David’s behavior toward King Saul. David fearlessly persisted in his exemplary behavior in general and toward Saul in particular. Saul continued to pursue David, seeking to kill him, but in the end, David was blessed. The difficulties were used to test and to prepare David to be greatly blessed and used by the Lord.

Persecution & Suffering: 42

1 Peter 2:19-23 says, “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Twice in this passage we are told that we find favor with God if we suffer unjustly and we patiently endure it. If we do not patiently endure it, presumably there is no benefit. Peter points to Jesus as our example in this. He didn’t complain or threaten or retaliate. Instead He entrusted Himself to God, knowing that in the end, the Father would make everything right.

Enduring unjust suffering, then, is an opportunity to demonstrate Christ-likeness and to please God. This is truly good news. This is yet another example of how short-term difficulty results in long-term blessing. This is the sort of situation that is indeed a cause for rejoicing.

Finally, note that this kind of suffering is essential for us to fulfill our calling. In fact, Peter tells us this is central to our calling, it was for this very purpose, that we would follow Christ’s example in how to suffer well.

Persecution & Suffering: 41

Glory results from suffering. It will bring glory to God and to us when Jesus returns. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 it says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Our greatest purpose in life is to glorify God. Since suffering for Him accomplishes that, it is a valuable thing. It glorifies Him because it demonstrates the genuineness of our faith and His worthiness to suffer for. He is worth it.

As followers of Christ we rightly give significant attention to worship. Worship is anything that shows the worthiness of God. I value suffering for doing God’s will as a tremendous form of worship that will not be available to me in eternity. Therefore, I need to take the opportunity now while I have it.

Finally, we will share in that praise, glory, and honor on that day and for eternity. As Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Persecution & Suffering: 40

In James 5:10-11, James tells us: “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Job is an example of someone who suffered tremendously, losing everything he owned, his family, and his health, in a most tragic and severe fashion. Then, even his wife and closest friends turned against him despite his righteousness and positive response. In his case, however, the Lord provided comfort and relief during the years of his remaining life upon earth.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the character qualities of patience and perseverance. When I was young, I used to assume that patience and perseverance were a given. Now I respect the character and strength they represent. Patience and perseverance are the responses the Lord is looking for from us when we undergo suffering. These are the qualities He rewards with blessing, compassion, and mercy.

The good news is that each one of us is guaranteed this relief, blessing, compassion and mercy in full measure and forever. We may not see it in this lifetime, but we will definitely reap the rewards in eternity and for eternity.