6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
I’ve never quite comprehended the joy of those being persecuted. It’s been a complete puzzle to me, probably because I’ve lived such a sheltered and free life. Paul spoke about it here. Volumes of books have been written about this very topic.
The joy absolutely must come from the Holy Spirit. There’s no earthly way to explain it otherwise. The words of Steven Curtis Chapman come to mind:
What kind of joy is this
To count it a blessing to suffer?
In the midst of physical and verbal abuse, it’s not all smiles and happiness.
No, there’s real pain and real hurt. Real brokenness. Real broken arms. Real rape. Real beatings. Real torture. Real disfiguration. Real humiliation. Real tears. Real death.
I know, it’s not such a pleasant topic to wake up to, is it? Imagine, though, if you were in the midst of it.
So, where does the joy enter into the picture?
In those rare periods of quiet and calm.
When the victim is sleeping or eating or in between punishments.
The power of the Holy Spirit swoops in and comforts.
Supernaturally. Otherworldly. No other way to explain it.
It’s in these times – for us – to cry out and ask Why, When, and What Can I Do?
Will you cry out today with me?