You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. ~ Psalm 71:21 (NKJV)
When we are persecuted whether in our workplaces or otherwise, our hearts turn to urgent cries and pleas for God's rescue. As we are in the midst of such suffering and pain, we can quickly forget about God's purpose, grace, hope, comfort and restoration. Yet the Bible reminds us that He is with us in tribulation and that after we suffer a little while, He will restore us (1Peter 5:10). This truth we must cling to.
I recall a season in my life of intense persecution that lasted 18 months. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that this was a period of spiritual development. I learned that more than spiritual growth, spiritual development requires greater resistance, much like body building in the physical realm. And just as in an intense weightlifting workout, I anticipated the end of each strain and each pain because what truly lasted a little while seemed like an eternity.
As I cried out to the Lord to rescue me daily, my personal trainer, the Holy Spirit, encouraged me via scriptures, teachings, visions, prophecies and signs and wonders. In addition to Psalm 71:21, He gave me another key scripture, Romans 12:12 which says, "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer" (NASB). He led me to proclaim this verse daily, to pray for understanding and to praise Him sacrificially.
Toward the end of this developmental journey, the Holy Spirit gave me the understanding that my heart had to be crucified in order for me to enter into a greater level of love for others and for God. He taught me to truly love those who persecuted me and to earnestly confess, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34, KJV). He also taught me that Christ Himself suffered greater pain, which humbled me and put my circumstances into perspective. In this light of understanding, I was able to choose to rejoice in having participated in the sufferings of Christ (1Peter 4:13). And when the journey ended, I knew that I had come closer to the Father in a way that was new to me.
Indeed, the Lord brought me through a journey of greater dependence, comfort, patience and endurance (2Corinthians 1:7). He gave me a greater understanding and a greater vision of His perspective concerning love, and He restored my heart. Indeed, His glory was revealed.
If you are being persecuted, ask the Lord to reveal His purpose to you. Ask Him to fill you with His strength of joy in the midst and enable you to understand what is happening so that you may receive His full measure of glory.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.
Originally published Sunday, 31 March 2019.