12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:12-19)
Recently, I read a book with the eye-catching title The Insanity of God. It is a gripping account written by a Christian from the US whom God led to travel to different parts of Africa, Russia, China, the Middle East and Asia. In each country, God led him to meet Christians who had been persecuted for following Jesus. Many had been imprisoned at some point. More than a few had endured different forms of torture to try to get them to renounce their faith. Some had family members who were killed for their faith in Jesus. Each had a heart-wrenching story of the suffering and loss they endured for being a Christian. Yet each also had amazing testimonies about how the Lord empowered them to persevere and remain faithful through it all.
At the end of all the interviews he conducted with these persecuted Christians, one thing stood out. Many of them asked for prayer – not for persecution to stop, but that they would be faithful and obedient through their persecution and suffering.
They all knew that following Jesus and being obedient to Him comes at a cost. And if we take an honest look, we will see that over and over again in the Bible. Persecution is not the exception, it is the norm. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
If we are faithful in following Jesus, and especially in living out His commands and sharing the gospel with others, we can expect opposition. In a society where there is more religious freedom, we may not face the levels of persecution that believers in many other countries face, but we will still face rejection, perhaps ridicule, and other forms of resistance. We should not take it as a surprise, that even though we aim to do good, it may not necessarily be received well. Let’s not lose heart, but entrust everything to God, and be faithful. “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19)
There is so much we can learn from the faith and lives of our brothers and sisters who continue to follow Jesus in the midst of suffering. At the end, may we all echo the words that many of them declare, “Jesus is worth it! He is worth it all!”
By Jan Choo, Assistant Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 1 December 2019)