The Blessing of Persecution
Jesus closes out the Beatitudes with some very profound words on persecution in Matthew 5:10-12: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I would say that most of the blessings that are associated with the beatitudes are “future blessings” with a hint of “right now” blessing as seen from God’s perspective. This is certainly true of persecution. Many followers of Jesus have suffered intense persecution in their lives, even to the point of torture and death. Jesus calls this a “blessing”. Jesus says that those who are persecuted have a great reward in heaven. We don’t know exactly what that reward is but we can take Jesus’ word for it that it will be great. But there is a “right now” blessing in persecution. Those who are persecuted can know that they are fulfilling the purpose of their Lord. God is using, “right now”, their lives for His glory. There are many stories of people who have persecuted believers in Jesus who, after watching the believers’ responses to persecution, became believers themselves. That is definitely a “right now” blessing but it is true that most of those who were persecuted would not see the fruit of their suffering.
Whatever kind of persecution we face for the sake of Jesus and His righteousness is from God and is meant for our good and His glory. When we remember that, we are best prepared to serve Jesus Christ and when He desires, to experience the “blessing of persecution”.