“But you, be on your guard! They will hand you over to local courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them. And it is necessary that the gospel be preached to all nations. So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:9-11)
If you are to follow Jesus Christ faithfully, then you should expect to face persecution. The kingdom of God is advancing, and the kingdom of the world resists its expansion. Therefore, you should stay alert and keep watch. The enemy may use secular authorities against you. You may be mocked and ridiculed. You may be penalized or stripped of opportunities that should be yours. You may even be arrested or brought into court. Jesus had said that these things would happen to his followers and that this was even to be expected. In his Sermon on the Mount, he ended his series of blessings with a statement about persecution,
“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
But know this: when you face persecution, you are never alone. The very Spirit of the Living God is with you! The Holy Spirit will be with you before, during, and after to give comfort, words, and wisdom. The Spirit will comfort you beforehand by reminding you of Jesus’ promise that he will never abandon nor forsake you. The Spirit will be with you during the moment of trial, giving you the words you need to speak. And the Spirit will be with you afterward to provide wisdom so you can understand how all this fits into God’s design. And finally, the Spirit will offer confirmation with the words, “Well done!”
You would think that a promise of persecution would have a chilling effect, but quite the opposite is true. When the apostles were arrested, put on trial, and flogged for speaking in the name of Jesus, upon their release, the Bible records, “They went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name” (Acts 5:41). So, don’t be afraid, but trust in God. The fear of God drives out all other fears. You’ll be rejoicing that your name is written in heaven!
Lord Jesus Christ, I do not want to face the time of testing, but neither do I wish to remain on the sidelines. Strengthen me now so that when the time of testing comes, I will give glory to you. Let me learn the fear of God that drives out all other fears. Keep me from all concession so I might honor you fully. And number me with the saints who have gone before me, even with the apostles who went away rejoicing that they were found worthy of suffering for your Name.