By Melissa McLaughlin
We’ve all been there.
There is a sting when we don’t fit in. Friends at school make plans for their party, but we don’t make the list. Co-workers overlook us during the lunch conversation. People give us that uncomfortable side-glance when we pray over meals. An unbeliever on social media torments us for our faith.
Why? One simple reason. We follow Jesus. More than that, we seek to live fervently for Jesus.
Lukewarm believers may slide through life unnoticed. But Jesus sees. (Revelation 3:16)
So, in the end, we must choose to follow people or Jesus.
There is no middle ground. Perhaps this is a good thing. Especially for Christians in the United States.
During my childhood years, most families I knew attended church and raised their children with biblical values. This included praying, telling the truth, honoring God, loving and forgiving others, seeking justice for people who were harmed, believing the Bible. And yes, even believing God’s Word about our identity, who made us, and how God defines marriage. God is the Creator. He sets the terms.
However, with culture opposing God’s Word in greater measure with each passing year, true believers no longer fit in.
People who follow Jesus in today’s culture are mocked, excluded, and persecuted. In some countries, this persecution is even unto death.
How do we handle animosity toward Christians? Toward us?
How do Christians face persecution?
Look to the Savior.
Remember how Jesus suffered to pay the sin debt we owed. Our Righteous King and Beautiful LORD endured mocking, spitting, betrayal, beating, lashing, and the brutality of the cross. The spotless Lamb of God was slain for our sins.
Look to those who have gone before.
My faith is strengthened by Christians who persevered or died serving Jesus with all their hearts. I think of Corrie Ten Boom, Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, and Helen Roseveare, to name a few. When I feel overwhelmed by my lot in life, I read through Hebrews 11. These giants of the faith held fast to God, though they did not live to see His promises fulfilled.
Look to Scripture.
Scripture teaches us that suffering is part of our journey with Christ. I don’t fully understand why, but somehow, when we suffer for our Savior our faith is proven true. More for us than for Him. We are refined as we stand for Christ.
Here are a few Scriptures on suffering for Christ.
- 2 Timothy 3:12 – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
- 1 Peter 4:14 – If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
- Matthew 5:11-12– Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- Acts 5:41 – So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Suffering Hurts and Purifies
All suffering hurts. And all suffering can press us into Christ and grow us in His image. In God’s hands, our agony takes on redemptive purposes.
Illnesses, trials at work, grief, difficulties in the aging process. The list goes on. When we seek the Lord, He uses our afflictions to minister to others and shine His light in dark places.
Moreover, when our struggles are the direct result of living faithfully for Christ, there is a unique setting apart or purifying that occurs. With sudden clarity, we recognize we are not of this world. We are not home. We are looking for that heavenly city.
Finding Christ in Our Suffering
No matter the ordeals we face, with Christ as our anchor, we can experience peace and hope amid adversity. Jesus produces eternal good from earthly struggles.
Jesus never promised His followers a pain-free life. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Jesus told us in this world we will have tribulation, but take heart; He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Who would follow such a leader?
A desperate sinner like me who looks at Jesus and sees a marvelous Savior. The only One who traded His righteousness for my sin and brought me into His holy family.
The world or Jesus?
When suffering hits hard, how do you stay true to Jesus?
Hold on, believer! Jesus is worth it.
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Additional Scriptures on Suffering for Christ: