I want to stand by you and encourage you, brother, that you are not alone in feeling discouraged, despondent, and even anxious. Many of us in very recent modern times in the western world have never really had to experience genuine persecution like we are now, nor like our ancient brothers and sisters in Christ did during their time so I think it’s catching many of us a bit off guard. Now, today, obviously some believers in this part of the world do or have experienced life threatening persecution or have even become martyrs for Him depending on where in the world He sends us. Again, though, for many of us the reality of actual persecution is now, well…a very real thing.
Others on this very site have encouraged me greatly on this very topic as I recently asked a similar thing (Is it evidence of a lack of faith to be anxious about what may be about to happen across the western world?). Hopefully it can be of some help to you, too.
The Lord is our Champion and He is with us, but we have to be ready to suffer for His name’s sake. It’s an honor to do so, unpleasant for the moment as it may be. Here’s a verse from Isaiah 49:10 that I hope will be of some comfort to you.
“fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
He knows you by name, Gareth, and He’s with you now closer than a brother. He even knows exactly how many hairs you have on your head (and how many you’ll have tomorrow!).
And Paul in his letter to the Philippians on suffering for Jesus. Philippians 3:8-10
“8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”
And 2 Timothy 3:12:
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.
Everything these people are doing is because, in reality, they hate Him.
" 17This is My command to you: Love one another. 18If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. 19If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.…"
My sincere prayer for you at the moment is that He will keep you strong in Him and the power of His might. That He will give you strength in the face of it all to joyfully, confidently, and fearlessly maintain your testimony of Him in a spirit of gentleness and love. That you will even come to find it a joyful blessing to suffer for His name’s sake if He requires it of you. And may He cause you to be a mighty witness of His reality, that He is Who He said He is, and cause many to come to faith in Him.
I say this as much to myself as I do to you. All of the riches this world can possibly offer are utterly nothing compared to being known by and made truly alive in Him. The suffering is very, very much worth it.
And PLEASE do not do this.
In His love.