1 Peter 4:12–13: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

May 11th, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Another translation reads, “Do not wonder at the burning fiery trial which is among you but instead expect and rejoice in it.” Many think Peter may have written this letter immediately after the fire that virtually destroyed the ancient city of Rome in 64 AD. The burning of Rome, which believers were incorrectly blamed for, was the beginning of the horrors of a 200-year period of Christian persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Still today, all over the world, in countries such as Algeria, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, believers live in danger of imprisonment, persecution, and even death because of their beliefs. According to the 2007 report by Britain’s intelligence service, MI6, 200 million Christians in 60 countries face persecution. The report is based on details from MI6 agents stationed in these countries. North Korea is identified among the world’s worst repressors of Christians, with more than 50,000 incarcerated in work camps there.1 Persecution of the church has been a reality since its birth and will remain a reality until Jesus returns.

Archaeologists uncovered evidence of persecution when they excavated a 3rd-century school in Rome. Under a rudimentary drawing of a boy worshiping a figure on a cross with the head of a donkey, are the words “Alexamenos worships his God.” It is clearly an image meant to mock a young believer named Alexamenos. Not far off, in a different hand, are the words, “Alexamenos is faithful,” suggesting that the young believer remained faithful in his worship in spite of persecution.2

We all know believers who once were strong, but fell away from the Lord when persecution or tragedy touched their lives. Some become so hardened that they struggle for a long time before they recover. Trials, when submitted to the Lord, cannot only be survived but even bring joy. When we surrender our struggles to His care, it draws us closer to Him and deepens our commitment to Him.

“LORD, help us to be faithful to You today and rejoice in the trials that come our way, because we know You will use them to strengthen us.”

1http://www.christianheadlines.com/news/mi6-reports-on-worldwide-christian-persecution-11545941.html, accessed February 3, 2016

2Leighton Ford, Good News is for Sharing (Nashville: David C. Cook, 1978), p. 78.