“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” - 1 Peter 3:14
Women and girls are on the frontline of persecution. In many parts of the world, they already face discrimination because of their gender…being a Christian makes them even more vulnerable. Meena and Sunita are sisters from a Hindu background living in India. When they decided to follow Jesus they were beaten by their neighbors because of their new faith. Sunita was beaten so severely she lost consciousness. When she awoke, she found that she had been dragged to the edge of her town and left like a heap of garbage. Her wrist was so badly broken a bone was protruding from her skin. Sunita made her way to a goat shed to hide and there, with unwavering faith, she prayed, “I can die or I can witness. Lord, make me a witness for You.” Sunita survived and the Lord has answered her prayer.
Suffering. This is not a favorite topic in Christian circles. In fact, most of us do all we can to avoid suffering. There are two ways you can suffer – fairly or unfairly. Sometimes we suffer because we get what we deserve. However, other times the opposite is true and we suffer because we get what we don’t deserve. When someone is treated well for doing well, we call that fairness. When someone is punished for doing wrong we call that justice. But what do we call it when someone suffers for doing what is right and good? Most call that unfair; but God calls that blessing.
Remember Christ’s words in His first public sermon found in Matthew 5:10-12? “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” Anyone can accept good when they do good. That is fair. Anyone can accept bad when they do bad. That is just. But God’s question to His followers is, “Can you accept bad when you do good?”
The way we handle suffering says a great deal about the depth of our confidence in God. Do we, like Sunita, long to be a witness for God or do we just want an easy life?
Dear Lord, teach me to see suffering as a time to rely more on you than ever before. Lead me, Jesus, to be your faithful representative here on earth regardless of the cost. In Jesus' name...amen.