“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10, NRSV)

There are people all over the world who are being persecuted—truly persecuted—for righteousness’ sake, for the sake of their faithful witness to their relationship with God and to the ways of God’s kingdom. Some are economically marginalized, some are attacked, some are imprisoned, and some are executed.

O God, thank you for the blessings that are theirs both because of the joy they find in their faithful testimony to you in the present and because of the utter joy they will find when they are in your presence in the future. Keep them safe and protect them from harm. No matter what comes to them, give them the strength to be faithful.

O God, give those of us who live in places where freedom of religious expression is the norm the perspective and the class to acknowledge that the little slights and even the large criticisms we receive for our faith do not rise to a level where they can be classified as persecution.

At the same time, so fill us with your grace, love, peace, joy, and mercy that it will be obvious to all those around us, if such persecution ever comes here, that it should come to us.


This post originally appeared in Praying with Matthew: 365 Days of Gospel-shaped Devotions by Michael Ruffin.

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the former Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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