Suffering For Christ

August 21 — Luke 21:12–15

12But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. (Luke 21:12–15)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to suffer. I cannot remember a time when I have gotten up in the morning thinking, “Oh, boy! I get to suffer today!” So, when I read a passage like Luke 21, I have to be honest and say that it makes me uncomfortable. I would like to think that Jesus was only talking to the apostles here, but when you read the entire passage it seems pretty clear that he is talking of a much more expansive length of time. In fact, there are indications that it could very well refer to our time.
I am privileged to live in the United States. I can honestly say that, with the exception of occasional ridicule, I have not been persecuted for my faith in Jesus Christ. However, I know from reports around the world that brothers and sisters in Christ are today facing the kind of persecution and suffering that Jesus describes in Luke 21. In the Middle East, Christians are being executed for their faith. In other countries, believers have been imprisoned and tortured because they have spoken openly about Christ and the salvation He offers. These persecuted believers have discovered that Jesus has been faithful to give them the words they need to hear. And, though they have suffered and many have given up their life on this earth, they have discovered that, as Luke 21:19 declares, “By standing firm you will save yourselves” — if not for this world, but the next.
We may applaud our brethren for their bravery and faith, but are we truly ready to do the same as they have? What will we do if and when we face this kind of persecution? I can’t answer that. I can only hope that you and I will heed the words of our Savior and make up our minds not to worry beforehand about how we will defend ourselves. Rather, let’s build up our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ now so we will be ready then. 
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ facing persecution around the world. Pray that you will stand strong in the face of those who may seek to persecute you.