Throughout our Easter series, our Thursday blog posts will focus on two seemingly discordant themes: suffering and joy. We’ll look to the examples of Jesus and the early church as well as exhortations from the authors of the New Testament epistles to see how the juxtaposition of these qualities characterize those who follow Jesus.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-11)
Jesus declared this true before its original hearers knew his fate. So, knowing as we do that Jesus willingly pursued this truth in his own life, we can trust him. But it’s not natural to rejoice when someone insults you. It’s not normal to be thankful for hardships that result as we follow Jesus—but that’s what he tells us to do. Why? It’s not some “mind-over-matter” trick, but evidence of a new reality, a reality evidenced by Jesus’ own death and resurrection.
Although a life following Jesus can be more difficult and complicated than we imagined, it is also filled with a deeper joy than we new could be possible. A life submitted to Jesus is a path of joy, because we know the true reality of things. We don’t have to collapse under the weight of any suffering we face for Jesus because we trust that a true and lasting reward lies just on the other side of this life to be grasped for eternity.
Take a moment to reflect
Do you trust this truth Jesus tells you?
What keeps you from focusing on and valuing the heavenly reward Jesus promises over brief satisfaction now?