What is on our minds when hardship comes? The cause could be our own carelessness and sins. However, there are other sufferings which are caused by our decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Verse 36 says, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” As we know, to become a true follower of Jesus Christ, there must be a cross to bear, and a world to leave. When we try to save ourselves from the consequences of this decision we will never find peace, but Jesus promised a wonderful recovery for those who faithfully follow Him to the very end of their lives (Matthew 16:24-25).
The Apostle Paul himself was a great example for us of how someone changes significantly after truly receiving Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He no longer considered Earth a precious place as he rather chose to depart from the world and be with Christ. Nevertheless, he knew he still had to work for the sake of many people who needed the Good News no matter how hard the task was (Phil 1:23-25). The truth today highlights on what sustains Paul through all the severe trials. It is love. The love of Christ enabled him to face tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (v.35).
Sometimes we read or watch an epic love story. Maybe we experience it ourselves - where the man willingly sacrifices his comfort and even fight against anything for the sake of his lover’s happiness. Fascinated by her partner’s sacrifice and sincerity, the lady decides to follow him where ever he goes, come what may. Nothing can change her mind. It’s an analogy, of our relationship with our Heavenly Groom. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He proved it by being all out entering the dark world to save us, His bride, from the eternal condemnation. Paul had no doubt about Jesus’ love as He chose him even when he was the most unworthy sinner (1 Cor 15:9).
Jesus did not only die for us but even is interceding for us right now at the right side of the Father (v.34). The question is, what kind of sufferings have we faced related to our faith in Jesus? To what extent have we lost our lives for His sake? Do we really understand His heart and love Him the way Paul did? If Jesus doesn’t occupy our hearts, then we will not be able to withstand any possible tribulations. Whether it is a little mock, a lonely path to choose, a severe illness, a devastating loss, let alone the ultimate one - the martyrdom.
“And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 – NLT). Let’s stay firm in our faith, for we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (v.37). Amen.