LOVING HIM ENOUGH TO STAND FIRM
Willingness to suffer for Christ is a sign of our love for Him. Sometimes the willingness itself is enough and God does not bring us to the point of actually suffering. Abraham did not have to kill his son Isaac (Genesis 22:12).
If we are to stand firm when suffering comes we must be true disciples, born again (John 3:3), fully committed to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will cling to Him no matter what happens.
A Christian at peace with their Saviour can suffer for Him with joy (Romans 5:3). This joy and the strength it brings are a powerful witness to unbelievers.
FAITH THAT ENABLES US TO STAND FIRM
The shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) is one of our greatest protections when the evil one sends suffering upon us. Faith assures us of God’s presence with us as we suffer (Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:2; John 14:18; Hebrews 13:5).
Faith helps us to turn our eyes upon Jesus so that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace”.3 Faith enables us to wait confidently for His deliverance (Micah 7:7; Psalm 34:4; Isaiah 28:16) drawing on the strength of almighty God (Psalm 61:2).
By faith, we can endure persecution with unwavering obedience, resisting temptation (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Faith enables us to compare our sufferings with those of others, which may show ours to be less than we had thought. For sure, if we compare them with Christ’s sufferings, as He carried the sins of the world, our own will seem a trifle.
Through the eye of faith, we can “count our blessings” and find good things in the midst of our difficulties. We can give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
We can be grateful that the Lord loves us enough to discipline us so that we can grow in holiness (Hebrews 12:7-11).
Faith enables us to view our afflictions, no matter how grave or prolonged, as “light and momentary”, leading to eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). We know that “in a very little while” our suffering will come to an end, either through our death or through the Lord’s return (Hebrews 10:32-37).
What can we do to build up our faith in preparation for persecution? We should be diligent in gathering for worship and hearing the Word preached, taking the Lord’s Supper if possible.
We should pray fervently for more faith (Mark 9:24) and remind ourselves of what God has done in our lives already. We should resolve not to worry about how we will defend ourselves if we are arrested (Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 21:14-15).
3 A quotation from Helen Lemmel’s hymn “O soul, are you weary and troubled”, 1922.