Blessing in Persecution
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.
1 Peter 4:12-14
Although we certainly do not feel blessed when we’re insulted and persecuted, Jesus said that we are, in fact, blessed (Matt. 5:11). The Lord’s perspective on persecution differs from ours—He considers it a positive thing if we suffer in His name. Persecution is good for several reasons:
It proves our faith. The only way we can know the capacity of our faith is by means of testing. When we persevere through a trial, we begin to understand that we can remain steadfast and obedient in the midst of a challenge. We also learn the magnitude of God’s strength to support us through persecution.
It purifies our life. Persecution snaps our attention away from meaningless things and onto the Lord. We are driven into His arms by suffering. As we grow closer to Him, He’ll bring to our awareness wrong attitudes and actions—some related to our trial and some not—for which we must repent. Persecution is a powerful cleansing tool.
It prepares us for greater service. Suffering breaks our self-reliance and pride—attitudes that hinder our usefulness for the Lord. Pride crumbles when we realize we’re incapable of living the Christian life on our own, especially when we’ve been insulted and hurt.
A life of ease and pleasure isn’t always a sign of blessing. So let’s not “be surprised at the fiery ordeal ... as though some strange thing were happening” (1 Pet. 4:12). If persecution strengthens our faith, purifies our hearts, and equips us for greater service, then we should thank the Lord for the way He will use it in our lives.