“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:10
Have you been beaten, lost a job, been disowned by family (or worse) for embracing Jesus? If you have, then you are blessed. The Master warned that we would face trouble saying, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” (Matthew 24:9)
Sadhu Sunder Singh was a man bruised by sufferings, and here he sheds light for us in the wise tale. Singh said, “And if men speak evil of you and pelt you with reproaches, pray for them, and instead of reproaching them let them taste the sweet fruit of your love. Mischievous boys, when they catch sight of a sweet fruit on a tree, pelt it with stones, and the tree without a murmur drops upon them, instead of stones, it’s charming fruit. For the tree has no stones to throw, but what God has given it. It gives without complaining. Be not cast down by ill treatment, for the fact that men fling abuse at you is full proof that yours is a fruitful life.”
When a believer returns fruit for pelting rocks, the supernatural gets ignited.
Igniting the Supernatural
Stephen ignited the supernatural. When the stones of his murderers were piercing his flesh, he fell on his knees and cried, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (see Acts 6 & 7) In his dying breath, Stephen yielded the fruit of forgiveness. Surely hell shakes and heaven reaps in moments like this. Someone once said, “The blood of the martyr is the seed of the church.” Heaven’s favor seems to get flung to the earth when God beholds His children in suffering or death. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
One Man’s Story
Pastor Paul Pillai was preaching with his friend outdoors in front of a movie theater in Chennai, India. The crowd was large and the response was encouraging. Suddenly, there was a big explosion of fire crackers and much howling from the crowd. Four strong young men stepped forward and slapped me on my face and pushed me down. They bound my friend’s mouth with a cloth, and both of us were beaten and were forced to leave. We went back to our place and prayed the whole night for the people who attacked us. Four days later, we received a letter by the four men who had beat us. They apologize for their behavior and then explained what happened.
After beating us, they went into the theater but were restless and came out. They were part of a terrorist group on their way to Mumbai when they came across our street meeting. They could not stand to hear God’s word. One of the bible verses was, “Come to me all that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) and the other, “For what will a man profit if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) Later that night, these two verses stuck with them and they could not sleep for a single moment. At 3 o’clock in the morning, one of them felt their room flooded with light. His name was Mukundan, the leader of that group. He got up with a scream, which startled the others. All of them saw a vague figure of Jesus standing in the room with a white raiment on Him softly repeating those two bible verses. All of them fell prostrate in silence. Deep sorrow gripped them. They received Christ that night and prayed to Christ to forgive their sin. The next day they wrote to apologize.
Isn’t that a powerful testimony? A miracle was released because believers followed the words of their Master. In times of suffering and imprisonment, there is an awesome response from God when His people pray and praise Him. Prison doors are opened, earthquakes occur, astounding conversions, and escapes from death. Read over Hebrews chapter 11 and consider the amazing things that ordinary people did with God’s help in the face of adversity.
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” -Matthew 5:44
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” -Romans 12:17-19