Have you ever been persecuted for your faith? We think it would never happen to us. I’ve never been imprisoned, threatened, or tortured, but I was cut off from some very close relationships because of my faith about 5 years ago. The pain was excruciating! I remember thinking, how do I not get overtaken by this, let alone rejoice like the apostles did in Acts 5:41?
You’d have to live with your head in the sand to not see that persecution in our world is on the rise. Why do some people experience great persecution but God spares others? Why is there persecution at all? I don’t really know, But I do know this:
Since God is good, He can only do good.
(See Ps 119:68, Rom 8:28)
God Himself said,
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11)
How can persecution not harm us?! How can persecution be good? Think this through with me so we can try to make some sense of…
Why God Allows Persecution
1. Furthers the Kingdom of God
Persecution in Jerusalem caused the gospel to spread out into the surrounding areas (Acts 8:1). The scourging and imprisonment of Paul and Silas led to the salvation of a jailer and his family (Acts 16:22-34).
2. Strengthens our faith and makes us more like Christ
…We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Rom 5:4, see also Rom 8:29).
3. Proves our faith is genuine and growing (if we don’t cave in)
In 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 your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1Pet 1:6-7)
4. Increases our intimacy with Christ
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11)
5. Helps us experience the power of Christ
Without divine empowerment we wouldn’t be able to endure any level of persecution.
6. Greater displays the goodness and holiness of God.
Looking back at that time of severe testing 5 years ago, I believe Satan was trying to keep me from writing the truth of God because it was a misunderstood blog that caused such havoc. God allowed this persecution because He knew that I wouldn’t fall away, but turn to Him in my time of desperate need.
As a result, my love for Christ and trust in Him grew and so did my resolve to live for Him. The opposition I received proved to me that I was on the right track because whenever you actively serve God, Satan will try to interfere.
I experienced first-hand the power of His resurrection that Paul mentioned in Philippians 3:10-11. With the Lord’s help I died to myself—to my wants, needs, pains, etc.—so that I could live through Christ. I had to experience it to truly know it deep within me. Without His divine power, I would have been consumed in my suffering. The fact that I remained faithful is proof of Christ’s resurrection power within me.
Experiencing first-hand Christ’s power to defeat the Evil One is exhilarating!
You and I have may not know all the reasons why God is allowing the persecution of His followers, but we can be confident that He is producing wonderful and eternally lasting fruit for His glorious Name.
My friends, wouldn’t it be thrilling to know that God used you to save a soul from hell, or to see Him take something so evil and use it for good? That would be cause for great rejoicing!
P.S. After Thanksgiving look for my next blog on the Best Way to prepare for future difficulties.
(NIV) The Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV. ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.