“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” ( Hebrews 10:32-34 )
Jesus said in Mark 4 that persecution will come after someone receives the Word of God ( Mark 4:17 ). The intent is to choke the seed from taking root and growing. If the seed can be snuffed out in the early stages then no crop will grow and flourish as result. However, Jesus also said in the Parable of the Sower of the Seed that when the Word is understood taking root, it will grow and the yield is thirty, sixty, one hundred times what was sown ( Matthew 13:23 , Mark 4:20, Luke 8:8 ).
Once the truth of God’s Word is rooted in your life then persecution has a reverse effect. We can see this from our example of the early church. They were publicly exposed to insults and abuse. They were mistreated, laughed at and even killed. They were stripped of their property, their jobs and their means of support and yet they stood their ground in the face of such hardship. Not only is this so, but others joined them, to stand side by side with those who were being so treated. Persecution merely served as a catalyst for their faith.
The reason these believers rejoiced was because they understood their reward and lasting possessions were vastly different than anything the world offers. The things they valued started changing as they saw the glory of God through suffering and hardship. James gives us this promise which we can cling to when trials come our way, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” ( James 1:2-4 ). We will always come through the fiery trails as pure gold.
The other reason these men and women could rejoice was that they bore the name of Christ. Peter tells us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” ( I Peter 4:12-16 ). Persecution and suffering happens because of the Word and because of trusting in God, so when it comes, rejoice; because you know that it is not on your account, but on the account of God that you bear the glorious name of Jesus.
We are the recipients of such faith. We enjoy the benefits of the men and women who gave their lives to pass the Word of God to us. The centuries are riddled with stories of martyrdom and suffering. These great men and women now enjoy their very great rewards and lasting possessions in the heavenly places. Paul told the church at Corinth that they not only participated in his suffering but they also shared in the comfort he received as a result ( II Corinthians 1:3-7 ). True to this idea, we also have received immeasurable comfort and joy that has come as a result of the suffering and persecution that the early church faced and we are so very thankful for their sacrifice.