In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.  And it turned out that way, as you well know.” (1 Thessalonians 3:4)

Christians WILL BE PERSECUTED.  We’ve been told, we’ve been warned.  But even with those warnings we are still surprised when we hear of or experience persecution.  Why is that?

In the news we read of pro-family, pro-life legislation that is scorned.  We hear of Christians trying to peacefully exercise their freedom of religion but being questioned or outright refused (see recent court rulings on Day of Prayer gatherings, and even in-home Bible studies in Gilbert!). Few and far between are politicians that are willing to make and administer laws based on what God prohibits or permits.  In foreign lands, we read of people of faith being beheaded and tortured for their faith.  Some say there have been more Christians killed for their faith in the last century than in all the previous centuries combined!  The Bible tells us that we will be persecuted. period.  So why are we surprised when it happens?

When we read just a little further in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3 verses 7 and 8, we hear Paul say, “Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord!”  Is it possible, that in our sufferings and persecution that we can find encouragement?  Paul did.  After all, persecution means that the Lord’s Name is being lifted high – and that’s cause for celebration.  And it means that another saint is standing firm in their faith.  Furthermore, it means that the Last Day is approaching, since Jesus tells us that persecution will only increase until He returns!

So brothers and sisters – be encouraged when your faith is challenged.  May you stand firm in the face of this persecution.  May you rejoice that the Lord is using you to proclaim the Gospel in this special way.  And may you feel united with Saint Paul and your brothers in faith around the world who join with you in the cause of suffering for our Lord!  May God be glorified in all persecution for the sake of faith.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.