As Jesus taught His early followers, He said something that was quite startling, and that lesson applies today just as much as it did back then.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB)
Counter-intuitive, isn't it?
My human side -- a.k.a., the Guy part, the natural me, the flesh -- bends toward anger when people insult me and persecute me, and falsely say evil things against me.
What about you?
It's only natural, right?
But here's the thing. Jesus instructed His first followers -- and by extension, you and me -- to not lash out in anger, but to be glad instead.
Because we have a great reward in heaven -- it's greater than we can even imagine.
Because we're in great company -- people also persecuted the prophets who were before us.
So when you're persecuted, don't get mad. Get glad!
You see, gladness is a choice.
Not just A choice, but YOUR choice and MY choice.
Teased by your classmates because of your faith?
Shunned by your friends because you love Jesus?
Passed over for that promotion because you're a Christian?
Disowned by your family for adhering to Christian principles?
Attacked by the courts for refusing to condone ungodly behaviors?
In the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The faithful who went before us suffered all these things...and worse...and it's a fact that these persecutions are increasing right here in our own country.
It's also a fact that our Christian sisters and brothers are suffering far worse things in other nations. May the true God of heaven give them peace and the strength to endure the horrors inflicted on them by the godless.
Sadly, similar persecutions are marching their way even into our "civilized" society.
What should we do as Christians who are in the crosshairs of the godless?
What should we do as things get worse?
Be GLAD! Be GLAD! Be GLAD!
P.S. One final thing here. Remember that Satan has already lost the war. God has won. Get in Christ and stay in Christ, because if you're in Christ, then your victory is a done deal. So be GLAD!