When I was a little boy my mothers’ parents attended a church where the Pastor had spent time in a Russian prison for his Christian faith. One day the pastor was able to escape from the Gulag and made his way out of Russia on foot during World War II. The pastor was from Estonia and eventually made his way to America and pastoring a church.
Although I was only about five years old when I first heard this story, it made a lasting impression on me. The pastor’s faithful experiences during persecution made a large impact on my grandparents.
Jeremiah was a faithful prophet but found himself in a cistern because of persecution. Why does God allow such a thing? What good comes out of this? Maybe you have similar or additional questions.
The Christian persecution we read about in the Scripture and history books is not a thing of the past. It sill exists. Today, in the 21st century, we are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history. According to Open Doors, an African organization, 2019 Christian persecution is increasing at an alarming rate. Lindy Lowry, from the organization Open Doors, writes this about Christian persecution.
The Apostle Paul understood that believers would enter the Kingdom of God through many trials and tribulations. Jesus says in John 15:20-21, Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.
It is God’s righteous decision to allow suffering in the world to sanctify His people. (Sanctify means to be set apart for God’s use) Those who accept Christ’s sacrifice and align themselves with God find themselves at odds with the evil world.
One of my favorite passages when I think about God at work in the midst of persecution and our difficulties is from Romans 8:28. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them All things don’t work together for good for everyone, but for those who love God.
There was a lot of good that came from grandparents’ pastor who was persecuted. He loved the Lord and it transformed him into a better person, a better Christian, a better husband, and a better shepherd of God’s flock.
Not all persecution has a happy ending in this lifetime, but the Lord will never forget those who were persecuted for Him.
To hear more of Jeremiah’s story listen here:
To hear more teaching on this story, listen here:
[1, 2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (John 15:20–21, Romans 8:28). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.