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. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 1 Pet 4:12-13
Peter is speaking of the persecutions the Church was facing and the martyrdom which was to come his way shortly. It is amazing what the Christians of the first century faced compared to the little that we face now. They remained resolute and steadfast in their belief, just another reason I am a believer in Jesus and what He has done.
We do face persecutions today as well. There is a baker and a florist in our very country who have been pushed out of business and professional lives destroyed over their faith and living up to that belief they have in Jesus Christ. While we do not yet face death for our belief in this country, we cannot be surprised when we face trials in the world.
We must also remember to pray for those who do face death in countries like China and most middle eastern countries who are hunting down and murdering Christians for what they believe. For telling the truth of this world. And then we must count it as joy when we face these realities in life. We count it as joy when we stick close to the truth in the face of adversity.
For the Lord never forsakes or leaves us. Sometimes our life must be the example that saves others; our persecution and joy through it, the light for someone else to see the truth. So, remain steadfast in the love of the Lord. It reminds me of Jeremiah, he faced all sorts of troubles, even being through into a cistern and beaten. And yet the Lord rescues him, and his life becomes the testimony that the remnant of Israel will follow.
So, today face persecution with joy and love. Face persecution of all kinds and count it joy. Take pride in persecution because you are a Christian and stand for Jesus Christ no matter what the cost. The worst thing they can ever do to me is torture and kill the body, but he Spirit goes on to live forever in eternal grace, peace and joy. Death has no power over me, life is for Christ and to live for Him and stand for Him is my joy.