The Key To Overcoming Persecution

One of the common themes I’ve had to address with people over the last year is how to overcome tribulation and hardship.  The last 18 months have been really challenging and many Christians have become weary.  Many have wondered, “What’s the point?  Why keep fighting if things aren’t going to get better?  Maybe we should just lay down because Jesus is coming back anyway? Why should we even try to make the world better?”

Have you ever thought anything like that?  I sure have.  Yep!  I have!  I’m not embarrassed to admit that and neither should you.  Look at Daniel 7:25:

25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws….

Part of Satan’s strategy has always been to try to bring waves of adversity and confusion so he simply wears us out.  You can learn more about that here. Interestingly enough, the rest of this verse says part of his plan is to change times and laws.  That’s certainly happening these days with vaccine and mask mandates, cancel culture, critical race theory being taught in schools, the Afghanistan disaster, and Satan stealing people’s identities so people begin to identify as not having a gender.

So how do we overcome?  Look at 1 Peter 1:6-9:  

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith.

God has had me studying 1 Peter recently because Peter wrote extensively about Christian persecution.  In his day, he saw Christians crucified, stoned, boiled in oil, and sometimes not able to participate in commerce because of their faith.  As tough as things are in America right now, we’ve got it easy compared to the first century church. In the midst of all their challenges Peter reminded them that these challenges were sent to test their faith.  Peter went on to tell them to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.  Get this, God expects us to rejoice in the midst of horrible persecution BEFORE WE RECEIVE the breakthrough!  

Why?  1 Peter 1:9 tells us.  When we rejoice prior to the breakthrough, we receive the end of our faith.  The key to receiving the promise we are believing for is to intentionally rejoice prior to the breakthrough.  The only way to rejoice when everything looks bad is to be intentional about focusing on the goodness of God.  We have to gird up the loins of our mind and make our minds focus on His favor and promises.  When we do this, it keeps our heart in faith.  When we rejoice for an extended period of time in the face of difficult circumstances, we propel our heart into faith.  This isn’t faking it until we make it.  It’s doing truth in spite of feelings, knowing eventually our feelings will follow the truth.  

The Apostle Paul did the same thing when he was thrown into a Philippian jail in Acts 16.  As Paul and Silas began to rejoice, God shook the prison with an earthquake and the prison doors were thrown wide open.  A revival broke out in the prison and many were saved.  This revival birthed the church of Philippi which was Paul’s main financial partner in his ministry.  How awesome is that!  The thing I want you to catch is Paul and Silas intentionally praised God when they didn’t feel like it and then breakthrough came. If you would like to learn more about this story, check out this message on the Tabernacle of David.

I believe one the things we all have to do right now is to continue to rejoice in the midst of adversity.  God is a God of laughter and He rejoices at all times.  God isn’t stressed and He is inviting us to do life like He does.  When we are intentional to rejoice in difficulty, we keep our hearts encouraged and we won’t get bitter.  This will give us the endurance we need to be strong and bring change to the world that badly needs the king we carry everywhere we go! 

I hope this article has encouraged you.  If you would like to learn more about rejoicing in the midst of difficulty, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church. You can also click here if you would like to get involved with our Cultural Impact Team that is taking practical steps to transform culture by educating, encouraging, and equipping Christians to have a strong voice in civic institutions outside the church.

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