Readings: Psalm 80:1-7; Isaiah 42:10-18; Hebrews 10:32-39
But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.” But we are not among those who string back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved. Hebrews 10:32-39, NRSV
Many years back, I lost out on a job because of my faith. It’s the only time it ever happened, and it didn’t cause me more than a momentary monetary setback. I’d hardly call that persecution or abuse. Unfair, yes, but that’s not the same thing. These words don’t apply to my circumstance, and I’d be telling tales if I said otherwise. But this passage does bring up questions:
For whose benefit would I cheerfully lose my possessions?
Do I value the blessings of faith more than what I earn or own?
In times of trouble, will I be among those who shrink back rather than endure?
Perhaps such questions are the reason for this part of the Lord’s Prayer:
Save us from the time of trial.