Reading: 1 Peter 3:14
There are many Christians who are persecuted because of their faith in Christ. Some are overlooked for promotion at work because they profess salvation. Others are despised and belittled by unsaved family members because they know and love the Lord. Many are ostracized by friends because they live differently and avoid the sins of this world. And in many cases across the world some are imprisoned and even put to death because of their loyalty to the Lord. Persecution in one form or another is common against the people of God. It is a reality.
In our text Peter addresses this theme but does so with the message that persecuted Christians can remain happy. This seems a strange combination of terms. Persecution is usually painful and hard. Happiness and hardship are not words that we usually bring together. Peter’s words need a little explanation. How can we be happy or confident in a cruel world? One answer to that question involves the Christian remembering that though the world is against him, God is for him. Christians must not respond to persecution in an ungodly way. We must endeavour to follow a peaceful course. We are not to become overly anxious, greatly agitated, or unnecessarily annoyed about the persecution we face. Rather we are to face the situation in a calm and Christ-like way. The reason for that is “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers.”
Clearly, God has a particular care and concern for His people. Matthew Henry made the simple comment: “God hath a special care and paternal affection towards all his righteous people.” God remembers His persecuted saints. Though we are poor and needy, the Lord thinks upon us. He considers us. He knows our circumstances and our cries come up to Him. He is not indifferent to our situation. While the Lord’s face is against the evil doer, He is for His people. And if God be for us who can be against us?
“Remember, infinite wisdom is at work on your behalf. Can you murmur or question God’s plan of operation? Remember also, infinite goodness is at work on your behalf. Can you imagine that God hates you and is plotting your ruin? Remember, still further, that infinite power is at work on your behalf. How then can real harm befall you? When you reflect that all these divine attributes are exerted on your behalf, how can you doubt that your highest good will be secured?” (Rev. Robert French, Words of Comfort, 307)