1 Peter 1:3-9
Harsh persecution for faith isn’t something most of us have been subjected to here in the United States. Perhaps we’ve been rejected, ridiculed, or treated unfairly, but at this point in history, physical suffering, imprisonment, or death haven’t been a typical experience. However, in other places around the globe, believers are severely oppressed for their faith.
But whatever negative treatment we may encounter, the Bible consistently recommends a response of patient endurance and joy in the Lord. Jesus said anyone mistreated for His sake is actually blessed (Luke 6:22-23), and Peter points out that from God’s point of view, such oppression is designed to prove our faith genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7). Whenever the church is persecuted, it is purified because those who remain are dedicated followers of Jesus.
Persecution can have a similar purifying effect on our personal life: Having comforts, pleasures, and idols of this world stripped away can drive us to the Lord for strength and grace. Then pride, self-centeredness, and self-confidence lose their grip, and in our weakness, we recognize God and His eternal inheritance as our only hope. Though oppression is certainly nothing you or I would want, we can take heart knowing that even in such extreme situations, there are blessings that lead to rejoicing in Christ.