Persecution - A bridge

"Let this mind be in you that you have been GIVEN, granted the privilege, not only to believe but to suffer for Christ."



We know without the slightest doubt that God is absolutely Sovereign.  Therefore, He could stop all persecution instantly and make it fairly easy to evangelize the world.  But He doesn't do this and yet He is not only a good God, He is the total sum of all goodness.

Remember ... He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

We had gathered to pray for suffering believers.  I'm not talking about the kind of suffering which results from living in a fallen world.  I'm referring to that intentional persecution of Christians and that suffering which could be easily avoided by simply denying Christ.

I listen to the prayers being offered.  A questioning heaviness comes over me at times as I hear prayers requesting deliverance.  I feel a strange restriction as I, from my comfort zone, pray for fellow-believers who are undergoing atrocities that make my mind reel and recoil.

I feel something stirring deeply inside of me and it seems to me that we are missing something; something about the persecution itself, something about the suffering ones, and something about ourselves who pray for them and who, in the praying, may be being prepared for who knows what.  My thoughts and turmoil continued and then God said to me,


     "If salvation is the Lord's gift to us,

      if ministry is the Lord's gift to us,

      then persecution is also the Lord's gift to us!!!

      Because the atoning death of Christ on the Cross is His gift to us."


Then I remembered that Paul said, "Let this mind be in you that you have been GIVEN, granted the privilege, not only to believe but to suffer for Christ (Philippians 2:5, Philippians 1:19).  Is the gift of persecution just for the suffering ones?

I dug into Paul's further words on the subject. "If my lifeblood must be poured out as a libation on the sacrificial offering of your faith to God, still I am GLAD and congratulate you on your share in it; and you in like manner be GLAD and congratulate me on my share in it." (Philippians 2:17-18).

Did he really talk about congratulations?

If I have a share in it, certainly my restrictions in praying would be completely removed.  The gift of persecution is not only for those persecuted but it is God's gift to the whole church.  Is it the gladness that is missing when we pray for the persecuted Church?

Truly, to delve into this aspect will require much communion with the Lord Jesus.  Perhaps a starting place is to be glad that we are not left out of this precious gift, we are included.  We can pray:--

--   gladness for our persecuted believers in their being fully able to

      rejoice that they are being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of

      His Name. (Acts 5:41)

--   gladness for them and for us that we can storm the gates of Heaven

      until we are deeply in touch with the heart of God,

      until the worst and most vicious of their persecutors are

      transformed into fellow-sufferers. (Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:15-16)


I heard a believer, who had experienced persecution, say that persecution is a bridge to the heart of God.  Those words touched me deeply.  When we receive accounts of the horrible sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not so we'll have self-centred fantasies of panic or of heroism, but to point us to access to the bridge, that bridge to the heart of God.

Self-focus will never direct us to that bridge.

A healthy saint never chooses suffering.  Self-made martyrs are revolting.  But to choose God's will even if it includes suffering is an entirely different thing.

Suffering because of bearing the Name of Christ has everything to do with God's glory (1 Peter 4:14) and Peter declares that such sufferers are to be envied because the Spirit of God, the Spirit of glory rests upon them.

Let us not miss the bridge to God's heart by failing to probe the mystery of persecution and moving farther and farther along that bridge, to probe the mystery and our involvement until the whole world knows that the glory of God fills the earth.


    Sovereign Lord, Abba Father, we pray on behalf of suffering

    saints, our persecuted brothers and sisters, who are in the

    fiery furnace because of loyalty to Jesus Christ.  Lift them

    to new realms of joy so that they may be enabled to truly

    celebrate being counted worthy to suffer for Your Name.

    From the most vicious of their attackers, choose and equip

    some who will be the most evangelistic of fellow-sufferers.

    And please, our God, give us a glimpse of those sunlight peaks

    of loyalty, so that our prayers may be legitimate and effective.

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