You are the God of all my comings and goings; You watch my going out and coming in. Today, I will live in this assurance.
Read 1 Peter 4:12-19
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Times of affliction have oft been the church’s growing times. Christianity spread most when it was persecuted” (John Wesley, 1703-1791).
“What have I done to deserve this?” It’s a question I’ve heard from many people who feel they have been dealt a miserable hand in life. It is a hard question to answer, because it assumes that suffering is punishment for something we’ve done. Peter puts us right. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, to be expected irrespective of how we live. In fact, we can suffer more if we are committed to living with spiritual and moral integrity because we can end up being persecuted. Christians in many parts of the world know this only too well.
However, we can bring suffering on ourselves. If we break the law, we should expect trouble. It is interesting that Peter warns us that meddling (15) can also bring problems–a tendency probably more pertinent than criminal behavior to current readers! I remember a well-meaning Christian who always seemed to gravitate towards conflict situations in church, only to face resentment when he made things worse. It shows a lack of Christian wisdom to intrude into situations that don’t concern us, or to take sides in other people’s quarrels. Meddlers rarely help, but often inflame discord and bring grief on themselves.
Persecution is altogether different. It is the sustained attack on people for no other reason than their identification with Jesus Christ. Today, Christians across the world will face attack, imprisonment, torture, rape and assassination, and their churches will undergo ransack and arson. Youngsters will be denied Christian education, and people will face discrimination at work. If this is part of the refining we go through as Christians, it’s also a warning of the severity of judgment that will fall on those who deliberately choose evil (17). Let us pray for Christians who suffer, that they may be protected and given strength to bear their suffering faithfully.
Will you commit yourself to regular prayer for those in the persecuted church? Lift them in prayer now.
Lord God, may I know Your presence on the road between defeat and hope, between the place where all seems lost and the place of resurrection.
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