“Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.” Psalm 119:157 (NIV)
Have you ever wondered if you would remain faithful to the Lord if persecuted for your faith? What you are doing now will largely determine what you would do then. We’re more likely to be faithful in persecution if we’re faithful before persecution. It’s like the old coaching adage, “You play the way you practice.”
This prayer also reveals steadfast reliance on God. “Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise” (v154 NIV). The confidence that comes from remaining faithful is knowing that our cause is God’s cause. But what about those around the world being killed for no other reason than professing faith in Jesus? Has God failed to defend them? Not when we think in light of eternity.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is in Daniel 3:17-18. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told Nebuchadnezzar, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
There was no compromise, even when facing certain death. They were confident that God would “preserve [their lives] according to [His] promise.” In other words, He would either deliver them in the fire, or He would deliver them from the fire straight into His presence. His compassion, mercy, and steadfast love are faithful in every situation (v156).
Do you have that kind of eternal mindset? Remember, remaining faithful in persecution is as much about what you do now as what you would do then. It’s knowing that any suffering in this life is temporary, but God and His Word are eternal (v160). There’s no doubt that our God “is able to deliver us.” The question is whether we will remain faithful “even if he does not.”