How Will I Fare in the Coming Persecution?

persecuteWith reports of violent persecution against Christians in the Middle East flooding the airwaves each day and of increased intolerance to those of us who follow Jesus here in the West, it is easy to sense in which direction the winds of destiny are shifting.  Christians in the United States have long enjoyed unprecedented insulation against persecution so that we have grown accustomed to expect it.  That expectation must now be reevaluated.  The ground under which our privileged position has rested seems to be eroding from beneath us.  Our favored status is not so favored anymore.  Even in the West it is becoming increasingly unpopular to be a Christian.

As I have listened to reports of Christians suffering greatly at the hands of evil everywhere I have been haunted by questions that I know others have also been asking themselves: how faithful will I stand when the persecution comes my way? Will I be true to my Lord in both word and deed, or will I succumb to the threats and deny my faith? Will I be able to endure hardships for my faith just like my many brothers and sisters are currently enduring for theirs in lands that are no longer not so distant?

Becoming a Christian in the United States has always been a rather easy thing to do. At times, it had even been fashionable.  Often, the tide of popular opinion has drifted with Christians, making it an easy ride. The decision to follow Jesus had not been that costly.  But what if that changes?  What if the penalty for being Christian begins to rise sharply?

In recent months I have both heard and read accounts of Christians who, before going through their own fiery ordeal, have also wondered about how their faith would last.  That has brought me comfort. If those who are faithfully facing tribulation had also questioned their fortitude, then perhaps it is not so strange that I would wonder about mine.

I believe that God provides the necessary grace to endure difficulties.  The Apostle Paul discovered this when he prayed for relief from his own suffering (2 Cor. 12). Instead of being delivered from his trouble, God gave Paul the grace to endure (vs. 9).  I have found this to be true in my own life. When a trial was not avoided, God provided me with the grace necessary to live through it.  This grace to endure seem to come when it was needed.  It didn’t come early so that i could save it. Rather, I discovered, it came when the pressure to my life was being applied.

Another thing about grace that I discovered has occurred while looking backward on my life. That is, if I had tried to envision the fortitude necessary to endure the hardship prior to the hardship, I doubt that I could have imagined managing the difficulty.  In other words, not only did the grace allow me to endure, but it gave me unique enlightenment at the moment.

These observations have helped me in considering how I might endure difficult persecution.  Even though I cannot, at the present moment, imagine how I might endure, I am comforted knowing that God would provide the necessary grace and vision precisely when it was needed. As He has done in the past, God would also do in the future; He would provide.

As I write these words I am reminded of the death of Michael Sattler in 1527. He had joined the Anabaptist movement but was soon arrested by the Catholics. He was sentenced to be tortured before being burned alive. He had confided in his friends that he was concerned with how he would endure the terrible torture. Since his tongue was going to be pulled out and he couldn’t speak, he agreed to hold up two fingers as a sign to his friends if God was giving him the grace to endure. Just before he succumbed to the torture it is reported that he held up his fingers, signaling that God was somehow providing him the grace to endure.  Since he died that day we cannot know how it was that God gave Stattler the grace necessary.  All that we know is that God came to him at his moment of trial, and he found it sufficent.

Christians have not been promised insulation from trials and persecutions.  However, we have been assured that God has placed His Spirit within us and that He will never leave us.  We can also know that God will provide the grace needed to endure any hardship that might come our way.



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.



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