Onley United Methodist Church

From Our Pastor


Grief and Persecution: Two Paws of the Same Old Beast


Grief and persecution have this in common. Once they hit where you are, both become unavoidable. In order to get on the other side of grief because of the loss of a dear loved-one, we must go through it. We may at the first try to escape it or avoid it by hiding from it in denial, but grief will be right there waiting when we come to terms with it. When we feel ready to come out of hiding, grief will pounce upon us like a cruel, roaring lion.

 

So it is with persecution. We can try to avoid it, hide from it, asking ourselves, “Is this really happening to me?” But when we surface and decide to make a stand for what we believe, persecution is right there waiting like a brutal, roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. 

 

On the one hand, when it comes to grief, few get through it with some injury, but healing is possible, depending upon swift acceptance of the fact and deep trust in the Lord. On the other hand, some never really get through it and become fundamentally changed for the rest of their lives, and not always for the better. 

 

So it is with persecution. Every five minutes, a believer dies for the faith. Some like the church of Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7) will go through persecution, being able to bear up under, and on the other side live to tell about it. But others like the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8) will face persecution which will possibly lead to death.  Both outcomes are spoken of in the NT.

 

These two outcomes are the only acceptable options before the Lord, and the Scriptures appear to show us no other.  There will be Persecution because of the faith and also Grief because of the loss; both are inevitable.  How then shall we live in the midst of such morbid, bleak realities? 

 

Proverbs 3:5-8  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.

 

Hebrews 12:1-3   Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

 

Matthew 1:22-23  Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

 

Revelation 21:4  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."