“Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Happy are the persecuted. Wait, that can’t be right? The Bible makes it very clear. We will face persecution, hardship, suffering, and struggles in life. But our culture doesn’t really know what to do with the idea of persecution. Don’t get me wrong – we are all familiar with suffering. We just don’t know what to do with it. In fact, we will do almost anything to avoid pain and suffering.
However, I believe with all my heart that suffering is for a reason. In no way do I claim to know all the reasons behind why someone suffers or is persecuted. But I do believe there is purpose.
Look at the broken state of the world. Things are not as they should be. Challenges impact believers and non-believers alike. How in the world can we find purpose and happiness in all this? But in the midst of brokenness, suffering helps us recognize true happiness and satisfaction. It opens our eyes and helps us see. So, what do we need to see?
- We are not God. – We hate suffering because we like to think we are in control. Suffering helps us see that we never had control in the first place.
- The beauty of God’s grace. – When we become aware that we are not God, we begin to see that we need struggles to help us see the true beauty of God’s grace and our desperate need for Him.
- We were created for more. – Suffering loosens our grip on this life and opens our eyes to what God has prepared for those who trust in Him. The Bible describes this ‘more’ as so much greater than we could ever imagine, making even our suffering seem light and momentary.
Now that’s what I call happiness. So, how do we find purpose in suffering? It’s all about perspective. Fix our eyes on Jesus. Recognize the peace that He has made available and hold on. Remember that for followers of Jesus, the best is yet to come.
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor, George Wright
Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C.