Endured Suffering Produces Perseverance
“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven.” Matthew 5:11–12 (ceb)
Although America is becoming an increasingly secular culture, we do not experience the level of persecution that many Christians endure. In countries all around the world, Christians are jailed and beaten, raped, denied access to jobs, harassed and treated unjustly.
Jesus’ point is not that we go out looking for persecution. Rather, we should ask whether we follow Jesus enough that we stand out from the culture around us. How do we handle the small struggles in our lives, or how do we react when things don’t go our way? Are we faithful in small things? Based on this verse, I wonder what sort of life Jesus was expecting His followers would live.
I have found that the greatest persecution I’ve endured—and it was minor, believe me—came from other Christians, from people who have publicly critiqued my theology, criticized what I’ve written, misunderstood and twisted my words, never coming to me personally to talk it over. I realize that it goes with the territory of being a writer and sharing your ideas with the world, but it’s still painful.
Many of us, myself included, go to great lengths to avoid suffering. We expend more energy avoiding suffering than it would take to simply endure it. What we forget is that suffering has the potential to transform us.
But suffering for its own sake is pointless. Jesus said suffering blesses us when we suffer “because of him.” In The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg writes, “Suffering alone does not produce perseverance, only suffering that is endured somehow in faith.”
FAITH STEP: Where have you faced insults and persecution because of Jesus? If this hasn’t happened in your life, why do you think that is?
Written by Keri Wyatt Kent