July 1 I Friday
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” —Matthew 5:11-12
If following Jesus would cost us our life, would we choose to follow Him? If following Jesus, we would be insulted, persecuted, beaten, stoned, locked up, lose family relationships and suffer deeply, would we still continue to follow Him? Some of us may honestly answer “no” to these questions. But what if following Jesus, despite insults, persecutions and hardships, can actually draw us to the supreme happiness, blessedness, of God—would we surrender all things to follow Him?
What we find to be true is that God shows up in our life in the most unlikely places. Because during the rough and difficult moments in life, we find ourselves depending on Him like never before. God, in His faithfulness, meets humanity and lifts us as we enter into Him. This is actually a blessed state, His happiness, that we are invited in to experience.
One of the clearest examples of this is found in the life of Paul and Silas. In Acts 16, while on his missionary journey, Paul went into the region of Philippi and proclaimed the gospel; afterwards, he set a slave girl free from demonic possession. The owners of the slave girl then seized Paul and Silas to be beaten and then thrown into darkness, into the inner cell of a prison. What did Paul and Silas do in prison? They started praying and singing hymns to God. While they were worshipping, an earthquake hit the prison, their chains came loose and all the prison doors were thrown open. The jailer, who thought he was facing certain death for not doing his duty, was about to take his own life when Paul shouted at him, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:28).
The jailer ran into the middle of that darkness, fell on his knees and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The jailer must have noticed that Paul and Silas were different from other prisoners he guarded in the past. There was a certain joy that they had and even in the midst of hardship, insults and persecution, they worshipped the Lord. Paul answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” That night, “the jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household” (Acts 16:31-34).
Jesus calls us to follow Him, not when everything is easy, not when everything is comfortable, but when we are facing insults, hardships, persecution. When we do, we will find the heart that is blessed in this world sometimes appears in the most unlikely places.
Prayer: Gracious God, even when times get rough and difficult, thank You for the blessed state that I get to experience as I depend on You all the more. Teach me to worship You whether the times are good or bad.