There are many countries around the world where being a Christian can warrant the death penalty. This forces believers to worship God and meet with other believers in secret. While this is a reality we live in, have you ever stopped to think, “Why does God even allow persecution to occur?”
We believe that God is sovereign, and that even within persecution, God is in control. How do we connect the dots of a sovereign and good God with worldwide persecution? Here are 3 truths for you:
1. We live in a fallen world. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve freely disobeyed God, and sin entered the world. If we did not live in a fallen world, nobody would reject the truth of the gospel, and as a result, no one would reject Christians. Jesus informed us that hate will come: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” [John 15:20] The world surely persecuted Christ by His death on the cross, and believers today often pay the same price as martyrs. Just as God used Christ’s death for good, so He uses the persecution of His believers for eternal good.
While God is perfect in all of His ways, He gives us free will. Humans are not robots and are free to persecute Christians; there will be eternal consequences for this, however.
2. God protects what is eternal. Because salvation is a free gift of God, nothing can take away our righteous standing before God. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” [2 Thess. 3:3] God knows what our ultimate good is and protects what is unchanging and eternal for us, our salvation. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28]
This is also why we are able to echo the Scriptures saying, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” [2 Cor. 4:8-9] While physically we are harassed, beaten or killed, our salvation is eternally secure and cannot be taken away.
3. Trials can produce deeper faith and hope. Can you imagine anyone praying for trials to come their way? Not too many would say that sounds appealing, but we see throughout Scripture how trials and persecution have caused the church to grow exponentially and allowed deep hope and faith to blossom within believers.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” [James 1:2-4] God protects our salvation and also knows what will truly satisfy and bring us joy. Allowing persecution to produce faith and joy in our lives is just one example of His grace to us.
We praise God that He has given us salvation and also strength to face each trial. To stand #OneWithThem today, click below to join us to pray for persecuted believers to rest in the hope of Jesus.