Catfish in Your Tank?
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I read about a problem a company was having with shipping cod from the East Coast to the West Coast. Apparently, by the time the fish arrived, they were spoiled. So they tried freezing the fish, but upon arrival, they were mushy to the taste. Next they sent the cod live, but when they arrived, the fish were dead. So they tried sending them live once again, but with a difference: included in the tanks of the live cod was their mortal enemy, the catfish. And when they arrived, the cod were alive and well, because they had spent the entire journey evading the catfish.
The word “persecuted” Jesus used in Matthew 5:10 could be translated, “to be chased, to be driven away, to be pursued.” Sometimes persecution is violent. There have been Christians who have been physically assaulted for their faith, not so much in the United States, but certainly around the world. Christians have been harassed, jailed, and sometimes even martyred.
But sometimes persecution is more subtle. It might be the loss of a job, being the brunt of jokes, or losing some friends. And if you live a godly life, then you are going to be persecuted.
Jesus said that when you are persecuted, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). Not only does persecution draw us closer to Jesus and, as a result, farther away from a world system that is hostile to Him, but it guarantees a reward. God allows persecution for His own special purposes.
So maybe God has put a catfish in your tank, so to speak. He can use it in your life. He has allowed it to keep you on your toes, to keep you strong spiritually.