Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,
as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly. (1 Pt 4:12-13)
Today we celebrate the feast of the martyr, St. Justin. Justin was a convert to Christianity in the early days of the Church (he was beheaded in 165). He was also one of the first, and greatest, apologists (one who defends in writing Christianity against the attacks of the pagans).
Because of his staunch defense of the faith, he was ultimately put to death. However, he — and a myriad of other martyrs — knew one thing: if he shared in the sufferings of Christ, he was sure to share in the glories of Christ.
Jesus was very clear about the suffering that awaited anyone who would follow in His footsteps. Jesus’ Apostles knew that as well. They were quick to tell followers that a trial was potentially awaiting any of them.
As humans, we do not like to hear those words. We would rather take our faith straight up, hold the pain, please. However, that is not likely to happen. The more we attempt to embrace Christ, the more suffering potentially awaits us.
It may come in ridicule from a co-worker. It may come in the rejection by a family member or a friend. It may come in severe emotional trauma (the devil works on us, too, remember). It comes it lots of different ways.
Hold firm. Endure. Because, with the Lord, there is an eternal reward awaiting us. Justin knew that, which was why he was willing to lose his head in order to retain his soul and gain eternity with Christ.
FAITH ACTION: Has the fear of suffering or rejection kept you from defending the faith among family, friend, or co-worker? Refrain no longer. Speak up for the faith today.