The things that stand out to me about Psalm 119: delighting in God’s laws, persecution, justice.
The things that stand out to me about 2 Thessalonians 1: persecution, justice, honoring God.
I’ve felt guilty for ever feeling persecuted … seemed my trials in comparison to those who suffered for Christ were light. But having Old Testament and New Testament side by side, the psalmist suffers alongside Christ-followers suffering. Both of them are fixed on God, regardless of the cause of being hated. Isn’t that what persecution is? A quick check on meaning mentions harassment, annoyance–but to me, the root bears resemblance to hatred toward those (especially) who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook.
Hatred towards those who differ.
I remember a situation where I felt persecuted. But because I was operating on hunch rather than fact, I tried over and over to believe the best regarding those involved. It was hard. Months later, I discovered the truth of it all–the details more wounding than I ever imagined. I cried out to God, “Why did you have me believe the best about it!? It wasn’t the truth. I never would have (blessed them) if I had known!”
His answer, still, quiet, “I know.”
11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NLT.
In the end, I am responsible for how I act regardless of how others behave. This dialogue with God revealed to me many things about myself, about pain, about hatred. I’m thankful he spared me the details early, so I could claim kindness in his strength, rather than spite in my own.
This is love, this is hate … we’ve got a choice to make.
Father, your love amazes me. Please enable me, daily, to live a life worthy of your call.