What does the word mean to you? When I used to hear the word persecution I would think of foreign countries where the Christians are fighting to preach the Gospel. I think of people smuggling in bibles, people having bible studies underground with meer pages of a bible, people loving and living for the Lord no matter what their circumstances.
Here in America we are free to believe in God, talk about God, live for God and raise our children the way we want to raise them. We are free to stand in Walmart and talk to someone about the Lord, we are free to share the Gospel in a parking lot or anywhere we please. But, as Christians, do we? Do we take advantage of these freedoms? Or do we take them for granted and stay in a comfort zone and let someone else take the persecution or rejection for us? Do we let someone else walk through fire to try and further the Kingdom of God? What does God call us to do?
Persecution is persecution and it takes on many forms. Have you ever been persecuted for something? How have you responded? Most likely you haven't gone to jail for sharing the Gospel, most likely you haven't had your family ripped away from you for loving and living the way God has asked you too, most likely you haven't REALLY relied on the Lord for everything. Think about that for a second... what would you do in the case of Job? How would you respond in such a situation even close to what happened to him? He lost everything material (all his riches), he lost his family (that would be worse than any material possession!) and he lost his health to the point of living in absolute misery- no matter what he still loved the Lord and would not curse the Lord. Can we say the same about ourselves? Hard questions... I can only pray for half the strength and fight he had.
God gave me a strong spirit- especially the spirit to fight. Not aggressive fighting, not physical fighting...but a spirit to endure. No matter what gets thrown at me, I always respond by fighting my way back...no matter how far I get knocked down. I guess I'm like a boxer who never gets totally knocked out....I always have the strength to get up again- the fight is never over. And it shouldn't be- my strength comes from the Lord and sometimes that's all I've got. But, I continue to have that still, small voice that tells me to stand firm in the storm and to hang on. And I do, I hang on for all I'm worth. Even when I'm on the edge and praying for the strength to hang on just one more moment.... I thank God for that spirit of endurance.
So, today my gratitude journal reads, "Today I am grateful for the strength to endure."