PSALM 37:39-40: “The victory for righteous people comes from the LORD. He is their fortress in times of trouble. The LORD helps them and rescues them. He rescues them from wicked people. He saves them because they have taken refuge in him.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Why do the righteous suffer? This Psalm seems to indicate that the righteous will be protected from the wicked. So, when believers are martyred for their faith, are they not rescued because of their lack of faith? There are many today who misunderstand God’s promises of protection. He does not promise that the righteous will never suffer persecution. Rather, the Lord promises that He will preserve them and keep them through whatever they may face.
Jesus said the following…
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways.” (Matthew 5:10-12 GW)
- “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. Every hair on your head has been counted. Don’t be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows.”. (Matthew 10:28-31 GW)
- “⌊Jesus continued,⌋ “I have said these things to you so that you won’t lose your faith. You will be thrown out of synagogues. Certainly, the time is coming when people who murder you will think that they are serving God. They will do these things to you because they haven’t known the Father or me. But I’ve told you this so that when it happens you’ll remember what I’ve told you. I didn’t tell you this at first, because I was with you.” (John 16:1-4 GW)
- “Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. Your suffering will go on for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let the person who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. Everyone who wins the victory will never be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11 GW)
And, when a righteous person suffers for righteousness, it is not a sign of their lack of faith, it is a testimony of their faith!
- “…Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground. All these people were known for their faith…” (Hebrews 11:35-39 GW)
So, as I ponder on these Scriptures, I am reminded of the great faith of our persecuted brothers and sisters who are undergoing persecution and even dying for their faith in Jesus Christ around the world. I am drawn to pray for their deliverance, and to honor their lives of sacrifice for the truth of the Gospel. I am inspired by their courage, and challenged by their willingness to count the cost. And – I rejoice that they have been received into the heavenly arms of their Lord and Savior and given the “Crown of Life!
Lord, give me grace to walk in the example of faith and obedience of those who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed!
In Jesus Name!