In the early years of the church, when ruthless dictators tried to wipe out Christianity in North Africa, many believers had to flee to escape persecution. They fled into the desert and as far away as northern Europe. As they traveled, they took the Gospel message with them; and they established secluded communities where they could develop their spiritual life and cope with persecution. These early African believers were known as monks and these secluded communities were called monasteries. They clung to Peter’s admonition on how to cope with suffering. He wrote in 1 Peter Chapter 4, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” Since God’s grace has sustained His people all through history, we can be sure He will not fail us in the trials we face today.
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