I have never wanted to be persecuted. I know in the New Testament as well as during the first three centuries within the Roman Empire, people felt they were filling their calling when they were persecuted and martyred. There was self-flagellation in the Catholic Church (and perhaps still).
The thought of physical punishment for my belief in Christ is not something I would approach with any fondness. I do think I’m willing, should the Lord require it of me, and I pray He would give me grace to endure my calling.
No, I suffer another kind of persecution. Being disliked. Personal problems with other people. It’s something that has plagued me my whole life. It might not be a problem limited to me. So, I found a little paragraph that gives me a lot of encouragement:
‘The especial advantage I gained from the disapproval I met with was that it took a great deal of the conceit out of me. I had it so rubbed into me that I was altogether wrong and foolish, and was only tolerated because of the kindness of my friends, that I really came at last to have a sort of instinctive feeling that I deserved nothing but snubs and reproaches, and that any unkindness that might be shown me was only my just desert. In fact, I got into the habit of never expecting anything else, and ceased to think i had any rights that others ought not ot trample on. This habit of mind has given me the greatest liberty of spirit through all my life since, as I have never been obliged, as so many people seem to be, to stand up for my rights, and have in fact scarcely ever had the sense to see when I have been slighted. If one has no rights, their rights cannot be trampled on, and if one has no feelings, their feelings cannot be hurt.’
I think much of the hurt I’ve felt is letting the criticism of others hurt me. The fact is that a criticism is either true or false. If a criticism is true, I can either do something about it, or I can’t. But caring so much about what others think has shattered me over the years, and turned me into this person who is afraid of other people. God doesn’t want that.
If I live an authentic life, hurts will come my way. If I focus on doing what the Lord wants me to do, then he can absorb and carry the hurts. If I get hurt doing God’s will, he knows for that and he knows I’m strong enough to handle it. So, I just need to trust in Him. That’s all I have to do.
The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It – Hannah Whitehall Smith