We’ve been looking at a text written over 2,000 years ago. A partial reading of the text says that we are afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.
In this blog we’ll be looking at the third word on the list, persecuted. One of the definitions from the dictionary is “Subject to hostility and ill-treatment.” Another one says to “harass or annoy persistently.” While being annoyed by someone can be humorous (for a period of time), the other words of hostility, ill-treatment, and harassment are powerful, personal, and damaging.
Dealing With Persecution
One of my favorite fictional characters is Jack Reacher from the novels written by Lee Child. Reacher, retired from the Military Police, is simply walking across the United States to see it up close and in person. However, his “simple” walk turns into some sort of personal persecution in almost every small town. It’s interesting to me that even though he is unjustly persecuted in each novel, Reacher never seems to be too upset by the persecution. He simply starts some logical investigative work that he learned in the military to “get at” what is causing the persecution.
As our ancient text says, we will be persecuted for no apparent reason. Reacher lives with that kind of persecution everywhere he goes. The text says nothing about justly or unjustly, it just says we will be persecuted. Almost nothing makes us feel worse than being persecuted.
Tough to Deal With
Unlike the first two words of our text, persecution is personal. It feels like we are being harmed.
I was working with one company for several years when my client saw me enter the office of someone he didn’t trust. He immediately called me to his office and fired me. He also began to persecute me. He bad-mouthed me whenever he had the chance. He identified me as a liar and troublemaker. He said I could not be trusted and therefore should not work with anyone else at the company. I was devastated. I had always maintained a very high reputation at all the companies I had worked for and this seemed to be both personal and very damaging.
I talked with this person’s boss (whom I had also worked for and believed I had a good reputation with). The boss gave me some advice. He told me that when this person found out that none of the accusations were true (the boss still believed in me), he would never apologize (it wasn’t in his nature) but he would ask me to continue working for him as if nothing had happened. The boss was right. Within a couple of months, the person asked me to come to his office and began talking about what needed to be done next with his team. He never apologized but simply went on about our work together as if nothing had happened. In fact, I worked with him and his teams at two other companies when he took new jobs.
Persecution happened. I almost quit consulting believing I had done something very wrong or bad, but just didn’t know what. I was being heavily persecuted but it seemed to come from nowhere. Our ancient text doesn’t say that we will deserve the persecution, it just says we will be persecuted.
Sometimes we’re persecuted for a reason. Maybe we were the first to persecute the other person and now it’s payback time. But that’s not what the text is referring to. It doesn’t give a reason. It simply says we will experience persecution. To deal with the persecution there is reason to examine yourself to make sure you were not the instigator, but like my example above and the text says, “you will be persecuted.” When that happens, the only advice I have is to be patient with yourself. You may never know why you were feeling persecuted. The text simply says “you will be persecuted.” This takes a lot of humility and grit. It’s not easy to remain calm during persecution—but be patient. Eventually, things will clear up.