Revelation 2:10. “Jesus says, ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested. And for 10 days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.'” These verses are humbling when you consider what is happening here. Jesus is speaking to his church in the first century, and he is telling followers of Christ that they are about to suffer, that they are about to be thrown into prison, that they are going to be tested, experience tribulation, and he’s calling them to be faithful all the way all the way unto death.
This is the reality we see all over the New Testament. Now, you think 2 Timothy chapter three, verse 12. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” that followers of Christ, who are proclaiming Christ in the world, particularly the more we’re working on mission to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, the more suffering will be a reality, the more imprisonment might be a possibility. For these in Revelation chapter two Jesus is telling them it’s guaranteed some of them are going to be thrown into prison.
Suffering, tribulation, trials, and imprisonment are possibilities and even realities for many followers of Christ in the world.
So we remember that it is not easy to follow Christ in this world. It’s not easy to proclaim Christ in this world, that suffering tribulation, trial, even imprisonment are possibilities, realities for many followers of Christ. And so this is where I am reminded in my own heart. I think of people I know right now who are imprisoned for the Gospel. I think of individual people that I have relationship with that right now are in prison in different parts of the world because of their faith in Christ, and because they’ve given their lives proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
And I trust we realize there are multitudes of our brothers and sisters who maybe we don’t know or have personal relationship with who right now are in prison. I think about different parts of the world, like North Korea, where we know we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are in prison because of their faith in Christ. And other places in the world where persecution, suffering, tribulation are realities and parts of the Middle East and North Africa where in a place like Somalia, if you are a follower of Christ … I was just having a conversation recently with someone along these lines about the work among Somalis, and someone had come to Christ and their life is now, not just, I mean, it’s in danger.
The reality is they could lose their life any minute because of people who are working specifically to kill them as a result of their faith in Christ. And so I just want to call us to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and to pray that God would help us to be faithful in following him to mission even if that means imprisonment, even if that means suffering, even if that means tribulation. We pray, God, we plead to you right now on behalf of our brothers and sisters in chains, our brothers and sisters in prison right now because of their faith in Christ.
God, we pray that you would strengthen them. God, we pray that in this testing that you would show yourself strong on their behalf. Help them, we pray, to be faithful unto death. God, help them to be faithful. Help them to trust in you. Help them to worship you. We pray you would use them even in prison for the spread of the Gospel. God, we pray for their family members and church members who may not be in prison with them. And God we pray that you would strengthen them and their faith during these days.
We pray for kids whose moms or dads or moms and dads are in prison. We pray that you would help them to trust in you. God, we pray for the spread of the Gospel in the midst of suffering and tribulation and imprisonment of followers of Christ around the world. And God we pray for our own lives. We pray you would help us, particularly those of us who live in places where it is legal, we don’t face risk to our lives for sharing the Gospel. God, help us to share the Gospel freely and boldly, and then even in places where there is cost to sharing the Gospel. We pray that you would use us for the spread of the Gospel in places that lead to suffering and testing and tribulation and even imprisonment or death. God, may it be so for our brothers and sisters around the world, and may it be so in our lives. Help us to be faithful. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.