“blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” [Jesus – matthew 5:10-12]
it is hard to associate blessings with what feels like a curse. it is hard to rejoice and be glad when evil comes against us. but, this is what we are promised by Jesus when we encounter persecution on his account. let’s dive into his promise a little deeper.
blessing – this word here means an internal happiness that is greater than our circumstances. it was a word in the greek used for the happiness of the gods. biblical writers borrowed it to talk about the happiness God gives to us in Christ. matthew 5:3-12 (often called the “beatitudes”) is full of these “blessings” we receive when we are living in Christ.
blessed are the pour in spirit, … those who mourn, … the meek, … the merciful, … the pure in heart, … the peacemakers, …
when we live in Christ, controlled by his life, under his rule, there is a promise of internal happiness that not only supersedes circumstances but, this happiness comes even when evil is directed at us.
blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
how? i don’t say this lightly, but it is a miracle! miracles are when the supernatural imposes on or is greater than the natural. when doctors give a person a month to live because of cancer – but they keep on living and living for years, we call this a miracle because the supernatural imposed itself on or was greater than what should have happened naturally.
naturally, persecution, reviling, and evil should not result in our happiness. this should result only in fear, depression, hiding, anger. and while these emotions may surface during persecution, the promise of Jesus is an internal happiness that is greater than these emotions. when we feel the deisre to “rejoice and be glad” in the middle of evil – this is a miracle. and, Jesus promises just such a miracle when we are living in him, under his life.
the only way internal happiness and joy come in the midst of external evil is through the presence of God. he is JOY. (ps 16:11) and, when his presence in us is louder and greater than the external evil, we will rejoice and be glad.
talk to anyone who has experienced joy in the midst of persecution and they will tell you, “i have no idea why, but there is a joy in me i can’t explain.” (phil 4:7)
today, let’s bear down in prayer for these of things:
1) let’s pray for the persecuted church. let’s pray for nepal and the philippines. the gleaves and martins are couples from this body that we sent to nepal and the philippines respectively. these are countries where persecution is real. both these couples are in the states right now, but let’s pray for the believer’s in their countries to know the “blessing” of God’s joyous presence even in the midst of persecution.
2) let’s pray for our body. many are being persecuted at work, at school, at home. let’s pray for courage to stand in Christ, but let’s also pray for them to know the “blessing” of God’s joyous presence even in the midst of persecution. (pray by name if you know someone to which this specifically applies.)
3) let’s pray for ourselves. let’s pray for God’s presence to be so powerful right now, today, and this week, that we move this whole day and week in his joy. and, if we meet resistance, persecution, that God would do the miracle of letting his joy be greater and louder than our circumstances.
~ john ryan