No Servant is Greater Than His Master
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
Are you being persecuted for your faith in Christ? Rejoice! You are in good company! You have been found worthy! Most of us, when reading about faith the book of Hebrews, want to dwell on the earlier portion of Hebrews 11. But since Christ suffered for His faith, we shall suffer also. Following Christ in many nations is worthy of the death penalty.
Here in America, a country founded on Christian principles (Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence), we embarked on an experiment in liberty that afforded to its citizens great freedom (especially of religion, not just worship) through the idea that people who are able to self-govern themselves through the belief in accountability to God don’t require draconian authority over them to live civilly in society. When this occurs, the founding fathers of the United States of America reasoned, it was possible that such a level of freedom was achievable. It should be very evident now, that in light of the people of the United States of America throwing off the yoke of Christ for the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, that such a government is untenable, the citizens will (and do) selfishly seek to codify in law government favoritism towards their particular desires, passions, and industries at the expense of the liberty of others. As such, Christians are now being persecuted for living out their Christian faith in accordance with the freedoms that they were promised in their founding document of law. But rejoice! Here is how we should respond:
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
Faith helps us to endure all of the trials of life. And when we endure, we gain character:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Sometimes it is tough when we are going through trials that test our faith (especially at night while we sleep). But you can be confident that God will never leave you or forsake you, for His character is perfect. And since God will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond your ability without providing a way, there is always a glimmer of hope – even if that means your release from trouble is when you go to be with Him in glory. God may place circumstances in your life that overwhelm you. However, this usually happens when He is trying to get your attention. But let’s not forget that many have been tortured and murdered for their faith. And in those trials, God can give you peace beyond comprehension to help you through the difficulty.
When we are suffering for our faith, we are told to rejoice! For as we surrender to God in our suffering, it strengthens our faith in Him to be able to get us through it. Jesus said that only a little faith is needed to accomplish mighty things:
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
If only a little faith is required to move mountains, and that nothing will be impossible for us, what great and mighty things does God want to accomplish through us that would require the great faith and trust that comes through enduring our trials as we walk with Him?
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask ourselves a question: Do I merely endure my trials, or does my faith mature in reverential trust and fear of God with joyful expectancy of what God will do next in my life?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, my strength is failing as I wait expectantly for You to act in these dark and evil days. Give me the strength to go on so that I will not faint as I wait for my character growth to be completed in the crucible of trials. Help me to trust You as a young child trusts their parents, completely and without reservation, as these fleeting difficulties are worked out by You, for I know that You are sovereign, and nothing happens without your express prior knowledge and approval. Help me to soar like an eagle, for I feel grounded, unable to even spread my wings. Comfort me in my sorrows and difficulties, and guard my heart with Your peace, that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.