It won’t surprise me if this post is not a popular one. Its topic is not a fun one. I get that. I don’t like thinking about it or reading about it. I don’t particularly like writing a blog post about it – but I must. Here’s why:
- Believers suffer for their faith. Paul, in fact, told Timothy to expect persecution: “all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). The writer of Hebrews clearly showed that many believers pay a price for living in faith (Heb. 11:35-40). If it’s going to happen, we need to prepare for it rather than expect to react properly when it’s suddenly upon us.
- We have no guarantee we won’t suffer. It’s easy to talk about suffering as long as we’re talking about a believer on the other side of the world. Or a believer in a war-torn area. Or a follower of Christ in a country where another world faith is dominant. Or just somebody else. Regardless of where we live, though, we have absolutely no guarantee we’re immune to coming persecution and suffering. Today’s education is tomorrow’s preparation.
- Spiritual warfare sometimes brings suffering. Job faced this reality (Job 1-2). God was sovereign over Job’s disasters – in fact, it was God who first brought up Job’s name – but it was Satan who brought the pain. Our enemy is fully bent on destruction, and he will do all he can to destroy our faith, particularly through suffering that we deem unfair when we’re living righteously. If we don’t understand the sovereign hand of God over suffering and spiritual warfare, we can quickly get angry and discouraged when they happen.
- Faithfulness under suffering and persecution is a witness to others. The Apostle Paul understood this truth. He had suffered at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, and he could later refer to those difficulties when teaching and challenging his protégé, Timothy (2 Tim 3:10-11). Sometimes our greatest witness is not when we’re standing on the mountaintop; it’s when we’re trusting God anyway as we go through the deepest valley. It’s finishing the race even if the cost of victory is death.
- We need to know and pray for believers who are facing suffering and persecution. The numbers vary, but some stats tell us that 100 million believers around the world are facing persecution. In some parts of the world, believers are being driven into refugee status to protect their families. They need our proactive, intentional prayer support, but how will we pray for our brothers and sisters if we never talk about what they’re facing?
- Our children are likely to face more opposition than we’ve faced. Any good parent wants to provide a better world for his or her children, but I see no evidence that Christians will have an easier time in the decades to come. If we don’t teach our children how to follow God in faith – even if faith means death – they’ll be unprepared for reality.
- You can’t legitimately teach about suffering and persecution without also teaching about ultimate victory. The devil who deceives the whole world will not win. Those believers who die for their faith will find victory through the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Rev 12:7-11). In the end, God will avenge the blood of the martyrs (Rev 19:2). When we know and trust that victorious truth, suffering and persecution lose their power.
What other reasons might you add to this list?