“His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Acts 5:40-41
The followers of Christ took joy in the pain and sorrow that were caused them due to their faith. How many times do Christians in North America rejoice at the suffering we go through because of our faith? I know, for myself at times too, have thought “Freedom of Religion-that means that I can be boisterous about my faith without harm and sorrow.” but the Bible says that we will be persecuted for our faith in Christ. (2Timothy 3:12)
James goes on to say “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” (James:1:2)
The way I see it, Jesus, Lord of all Creation, Son of God, Savior of all, went through more pain than any of us could ever imagine and he was faithful to God’s will to the very end. When we are persecuted, we are feeling the pain Jesus himself felt. We have something in common with the Messiah himself! “..they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” We are being counted worthy to be treated the same as Christ-God in the flesh-was treated. Why not be joyful for that?
After the apostles were beaten they went out and kept preaching about Christ and who he was, forgiveness and healing. They faced possible death-and eventually all 12 were killed a brutal death-but that didn’t stop them. I think here in North America we are far too comfortable in our little worlds. We have never faced real persecution-and if you have, may the Lord bless you immensely-but for the majority of us, we haven’t. We’re pretty safe and don’t have to worry about our heads being chopped off for our faith. In other countries where people are persecuted they are joyful for it.
We need to come back to the place where we are joyful for persecution. Where we rely not on worldly things for joy and love- but where we rely on Jesus Christ for joy, for hope, for love and peace. There is nothing else in the world more peaceful, no friend as helpful, no one more loving, no joy as great, as Jesus Christ. He is there through all and when you are persecuted all you have to do is call on him for peace. One of the verses I found the other day-that I’m going to start using as my own prayer is: Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness”. The disciples prayed this very thing themselves when they were being persecuted. This is who I want to become-someone who prays this prayer in the midst of persecution and to be joyful in the midst of it.
Through prayer and seeking, Let God transform you from the inside out, revealing your Innermost Unfading Beauty!
Love and Blessings,