Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

1 Peter 4:16 (NIV)

Since Christians were first called “Christians,” we have been surprised when we run into suffering and persecution. We are surprised when bad things happen, and often, I think we forget who we are when those things happen.

Hebrews 12:7 reminds us to “Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (BSB) While it’s difficult sometimes to differentiate between persecution and other forms of suffering, this verse from Hebrews advises us on how to view all suffering. However, there’s more to consider when we think about suffering and persecution.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

These verses from James give us more insight into why we should persevere in hard times. As do these verses from Romans.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

These verses from James and Romans help us to understand that the “discipline” we read about in Hebrews 12:7 isn’t necessarily the type of discipline one receives as a punishment for doing something wrong. Just as those who work out establish a regiment for working out, often called “discipline,” we know then that discipline has many applications. Indeed, in every aspect of our lives, we ought to discipline ourselves to do the things we need to do. For example, as I continue my current coursework, I know that, with discipline, I will stay caught up in my studies and finish the race.

Therefore, we know that not all discipline is a punishment. Yet, we know that, regardless of what we might perceive as the “reason” for the discipline, God is working on us to improve us. As James says, to make us “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Romans echoes James but adds that our perseverance in suffering also gives us hope.

In much of the Western world, we don’t know as much about the persecution and suffering our brothers and sisters go through in other parts of the world for their faith. However, that is changing. As societies’ moral boundaries continue to dwindle and shift away from anything resembling God, those who refuse to acquiesce and accept the structure of this new world will be persecuted. It’s only a matter of time.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.