1 Peter 3:14 - “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.  Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”


Let’s cut right to the chase, these are bold words.  Peter’s words are extremely bold and would have certainly gotten the attention of the reader.  You are blessed if you suffer, you are blessed if you are persecuted.  What? That makes absolutely no sense.  Blessed if you suffer? We don’t want to suffer.  Blessed if you are persecuted? We certainly do not want persecution.  Peter however writes to a church that is getting ready to suffer and be persecuted and he says to them you will be blessed.  


Don’t read that and think he is saying materialistically or something like that.  Don’t water it down.  The word blessed in the Bible means happy or joyful.  He isn’t saying that God is going to give you material possessions or anything like that if you suffer for your faith.  This has nothing to do with the godless health and wealth theology.  This is reality.  Persecution is coming and you are blessed when it does.  


Why does Peter say what he says? Because of what Jesus said.  In Matthew 5:10 Jesus says, “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”  You can be happy even if you are persecuted, you can be happy even if you are killed for your faith because yours is the Kingdom of heaven.  What a bold statement, but what a true statement.  This world only lasts for a few years, but eternity is forever.  So Peter is saying to the church live with an eternal focus.  Keep your eyes on the prize and you can be happy and joyful regardless of the circumstance.  That is a life changing truth.  


We aren’t being persecuted but Peter says you can be joyful even if you are.  You can be joyful when people are skeptical of you.  You can be joyful when people disagree with you.  You can be joyful when life is hard.  You can be joyful when you suffer loss.  You can be joyful when life is a tangled mess.  You can be joyful when chaos reigns.  Why? Because of the promise of heaven.  This is not a pie in the sky thought but it is reality.  Followers of Jesus are given the promise and the gift of heaven.  The Bible says we are “co-heirs with Jesus”.  So when life is hard, God is still good.  When things are difficult you still have the promise of heaven.


I used to not want to hear about the “sweet by and by” as heaven has been called, but in reality that sweet by and by makes all the difference in the sorry here and now.  If you don’t believe that look at the life of Paul.  Persecuted, imprisoned, stoned for his faith, hungry, shipwrecked, beaten, left for dead and still he was joyful.  Why? Because he knew that Jesus was with him and that even if he were to die for his faith he had heaven to look forward to.


Of course Paul is not the only example.  Think about Stephen, he stood up and boldly proclaimed Jesus and called the people to repentance.  How did they respond? They killed him.  But even while he was being hit with rocks he prayed, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”  When did he do that? After he saw the heavens opened and Jesus (the Son of Man) standing at the right hand of God.  He was able to love even when he was being killed.  He was also able to still be joyful because the Bible records for us his death with these words, “he fell asleep.”  That is a picture of peace.  Stephen died at peace, because of Jesus and because of the promise of heaven.  


We can have joy and peace regardless of the circumstances because of Jesus.  We can have joy and peace because circumstances are just temporary drops in the sea of eternity.  So live out your faith today, deeply committed to Jesus because of who He is and because of His glorious promises.