We are told that it is given to us, not only to believe on Jesus, but to suffer for his names sake (Philippians 1:29).
I want to write an article on this as part of the “Preparing for End-Times” series. This is not that article. These are just some quick thoughts I’m considering.
What does it mean, his name sake? To me, this means a couple things. For one, I see it as suffering for what the name of Jesus stands for. What he teaches. His commandments and all that he promises. The gospel of the kingdom of heaven.
I also see this as suffering as Christ is formed in us. Suffering hard things that foster growth.
How should we endure suffering? Should we be selfish about it, like, “oh poor me. This person is mad at me or has cast me out of their life.” I don’t think so. Though, we have feelings. We will naturally be upset over these things. I think the better perspective is the same Jesus had. “Forgive them. They know not what they do.”
I’ve been blinded. I’ve treated people terribly who threatened my weak faith. I’ve done enough sin and inflicted enough suffering on people I love that I should not be upset when I am treated hatefully. I should remember what it is like. I should pray the Lord forgive them and open their hearts to him more fully. I especially have no right to get angry, and to feel self-pity is not the way either. These are good things. These “sufferings” bring forth patience, compassion, and faith.
“Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness sake. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
I cannot imagine what it is like to really suffer. To be hunted down and slaughtered. To watch people you love hunted down and killed. Even so, these things do happen — even in the United States — just in a spiritual kind of way. There are many professing Jesus who are killing people with their words, deeds, and teachings. Watching this is hard, and being cast out by them is hard too. However, this is nothing compared to what is to come one day.
It is good to learn how to handle these things, and the Lord is so good to exercise us in all righteousness.