During the dark days of the communist regime in Romania, a light shone from the souls of believers in Jesus. Two believers, Nicolae Moldoveanu and Richard Wurmbrand, were lying face down on the ground in a prison courtyard on a cold December day. Their crime was their belief in Christ. To distract himself from the cold, Nicolae prayed that God would give him a song. Once they were finally allowed to return to their cell, he shared the song with Richard: “Not only future heaven to be in my speech daily, but may I have heaven and a holy celebration in life right here!”
Paul wrote to the church in Philippi while he was under house arrest for sharing the good news about Jesus. One would expect the apostle to be discouraged or at least focused on his difficulties. Yet his attitude was completely different. He stated, “The message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). What made Paul react this way in the midst of persecution?
First, he was completely confident that God was with him in every circumstance. Throughout this letter, Paul exudes a strong faith based on his close relationship with Him and encourages the Philippians to, instead of worrying, “pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).
Second, he was absolutely sure that Jesus was worth it all. Paul grasped the sacrificial nature of the crucifixion, the amazing power of the resurrection, and knew that his life would be empty without Christ. And this assurance caused him to live only for Jesus (Philippians 1:21).
May we also come to know Jesus at such deep a level that we would consider it a privilege to suffer for Him! (Philippians 1:29).
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 13:22-35
Read Matthew 5:10-12 and notice how Jesus encourages us to react when we’re faced with persecution.
What will you do to prepare for the day you might face persecution? How can you encourage others who are being persecuted today?