Persecuted but Praising
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Monday - November 2nd
Day 2: Attitude of Gratitude
Scripture to Read Today: 1 Peter 4:12-19
If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
1 Peter 4:16
Somehow, and sadly, I missed that yesterday, Sunday, November 1st, was the Worldwide Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. A friend shared this with me after Calvary's 9:00 service yesterday at Calvary. In the last few years, we have prayed for the persecuted church in all of our services on this particular weekend. Sorry I missed that this year.
I mentioned how I was in two countries last year and met with people who live in nations where the church suffers. Many have been imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and even killed for being followers of Jesus Christ. When you sit at a table and have a meal with someone who has not just experienced rejection and pushback but persecution, you notice something clearly. Our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been threatened and beaten for being Christians possess a solid, deep faith. Frankly, they are amazing.
During a couple of days in Istanbul, Turkey, last November, several of us as pastors from Calvary heard the stories of Iranian Christians who live in exile in Turkey. What they have endured for their faith is awful. The continuing pain of living far from family and friends in another nation reminds them of the price they have paid for their faith. And yet, they give praise to God for all they have experienced. Frankly, as I sat listening to them, I found it hard to imagine that I would be praising God had our stories been reversed.
In his first letter to the early church, the Apostle Peter addressed the growing persecution the early church faced within the Roman Empire. He prepared God's people for what would only get worse in the days ahead. He called them to stand up for Christ in the throes of the threats, the beatings, and even the possibility of death. Peter calls Christ's followers to give thanks when they suffer in Jesus' name. "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" (1 Peter 4:16).
As I have thought of my time last November in Istanbul chatting with persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord has stirred my heart to pray for the persecuted church. I have also found myself lifting up praise on their behalf. If they can praise Him amid so much suffering for Jesus' name, I certainly can pray for them and praise God with them.
In this month of focus on "An Attitude of Gratitude" in our daily Take5 devotionals, praying for, and praising God with, the persecuted church is one way we can be grateful. Today, pray for those who suffer simply because they follow Jesus. Ask God to give them strength, grace, and peace! Praise God for being the God Who walks with them as they experience persecution. Oh, and while you are at it, thank God for His grace in your life - a grace that currently keeps us from persecution. Ask Him to give you strength if, in His sovereignty, He chooses to allow us to face some of the things our brothers and sisters around the world have encountered.
Let's pray for those in the church around the world who suffer for the name of Jesus. Let's thank God for their faith and testimony!