Are you hurting, or even genuinely suffering, today? Are there burdens in your personal life that are really difficult to bear up under, ones you are even possibly considering running away from? Please be encouraged that if these are situations you are in because of your faithfulness to Christ and to what He commands, God sees, and your sacrifice is not for nothing!
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Corinthians 4:17)
I cannot strongly enough emphasize how important it is for us to realize that as human beings, we typically see with a very limited perspective. We see what is happening to us now, but rarely do we have the vision to understand the situation as it truly is–from an eternal perspective, as God sees it. Humanly speaking, any kind of pain is bad. It hurts, and we want to avoid it at all costs. Yet there are times when we cannot do so without sinning, without denying Christ–and it is at those moments that it helps to understand what God says when we suffer because of Him.
First of all, it is impossible for Christians to avoid suffering:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12)
Persecution is any kind of suffering because you refuse to do wrong. It can be inflicted on us not only by governments, but also by individuals in our private lives, and it is inevitable that at some point or other in our Christian walk, someone will attempt to coerce us to disobey Christ.
Secondly, persecution is typically evidence of righteous living. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
Why is the kingdom of heaven ours if we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Because people are not typically persecuted if they go with evil’s flow; they are accepted and lauded. The persecution itself is the evidence that you’re on the right track.
Thirdly, we are in incredibly good company when we suffer for the sake of God’s righteousness, because that’s how the faithful who came before us were also treated:
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, suffering for Christ’s sake is not meaningless pain; according to today’s verse it is “working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” According to Jesus, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11)
In conclusion, persecution of the faithful is a norm, not an exception, and it is frequently through the witness of the persecuted that others come to saving faith in Christ. I encourage you to read the following link by Glenn Penner, Chief Executive Officer of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada, for a truly eye-opening perspective on the persecution of the godly:
Help us ever keep foremost in our minds that our light affliction, which really is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Amen.