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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And you will be hated by all for My names sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”—Matthew 10:22 (NKJV)
When I found out I was pregnant, I was filled with joy. It wasn’t until after my first trimester that I realized I had to go through childbirth. It wasn’t like my college math class where I withdrew because it was ridiculously hard. No, labor was going to happen, pain would be felt, and there was no way around it.
My rebirth in Christ was much the same. There was so much joy, but I wasn’t prepared for the separation and persecution from family and friends. Yet, there was no way around it—my faith became a dividing line (Luke 12:53).
Jesus warned His disciples of this persecution: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19 NKJV). Now, open your Bible and read what Jesus gives them before and after this warning: “These things I command you, that you love one another” (vs. 17); followed later by, “I will send Him to you” (vs. 16:7). Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, the Helper.
To me, it looks like Jesus bookends persecution with love and help. If we are first established in the love of Jesus, and if we draw help from the Holy Spirit, then we are better equipped to handle the pain of persecution and respond in mercy and love.
Love means that in your suffering, you do good (1 Peter 2:21). It means to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). If you are rejected or maligned, simply shake the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:14). Ask the Lord for help and trust Him.
William Gurnall, author of The Christian in Complete Armour, wrote something that stuck with me: “Look beyond wicked men; spend your wrath on Satan. Men are only his puppets. They may be won to Christ’s side and so become your friends.”
That is what love does. It looks beyond the hate. Stephen showed this love before being stoned, and Paul showed it in the depths of his prison. They never let bitterness or anger define their character.
Persecution isn’t an elective course. If you are in Christ, you will experience it. But with Christ you can look beyond it and be blessed for it (Matthew 5:11-12).
DIG: In what ways have you experienced persecution? How did you handle it?
DISCOVER: Study how the saints before us handled persecution—men like David, Jeremiah, and Paul. What was their source of comfort and strength?
DISPLAY: Jesus tells us to love our enemies. How can loving through Jesus and drawing strength from Him impact how you handle persecution?
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.