As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who with her family provided “hiding places” for Jews during World War II. Her faith sustained her through months in Ravensbruck concentration camp, and through the death of her father and sister at the hands of the Nazis. After Corrie’s release from Ravensbruck she spent the rest of her life traveling the world telling people the good news of Jesus Christ.
Once Corrie visited an African nation where a new government had come to power and was arresting and murdering Christians. While in that country Corrie visited a church where some Christians had been killed. As the Christians fearfully looked round the room wondering who would be killed next, Corrie told them the following story from her childhood:
“When I was a little girl I went to my father and said, ‘Daddy, I am afraid that will I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.’ ‘Tell me’ said Father, ‘When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?’ ‘No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.’ ‘That is right,’ my father said, ‘and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time.’”
Corrie said that after telling the story her African friends began nodding, smiling, and singing: “In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” Later that week, half the congregation was executed.
Through the centuries the people of God have experienced the realities of what Corrie spoke: our heavenly Father will supply all that is needed – just in time. When persecution, revilement, and evil come, God’s children can be sure they will have all that they need to stand strong and rejoice. “…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
PONDER AND PRAY
“But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publically exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and lasting.”—Hebrew 10:32-34
- What is it about the threat of persecution, false accusations, and insults that most frightens you?
- What does the promise that God will supply all that you need – “just in time” — stir in you?
- Is there some area where the Spirit of God is calling you to take a stand for Jesus?
- What do you want to say to God?