1 Peter 1:3-9 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Sever persecution for faith is not something most of us have had to endure in the United States of America. We may be ridiculed, rejected or even treated unfairly, but up to this point in time physical suffering, imprisonment or even death has not been a typical experience for those of the faith.
This is not the case in many places on this Earth, because believers are brutally oppressed for their faith. No matter what negative treatment may come our way, the Bible consistently recommends to us a response of patient endurance filled with joy in the Lord.
Jesus said anyone mistreated for His sake is actually blessed, “Blessed are you when people hate and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23), and Peter points out that from God’s point of view, such oppression is designed to prove our faith genuine, In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, to that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Every time the church is persecuted, it is purified because those who remain are dedicated followers of Jesus. Persecution can have a similar purifying effect on our personal life.
The effect of having our comforts, pleasures and/or our idols of this world stripped from us is that we are driven to the Lord for strength and grace.
It is when pride, self-centeredness, selfishness, self-confidence lose their grip, and our weaknesses, we recognize God and His eternal inheritance as our only hope.
Though oppression is certainly nothing you or I would desire, we can take heart knowing that even in such extreme situations there are blessings that lead to rejoicing in Christ.