"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15 NRSV)
Perpetua, a native of North Africa, was just twenty-years-old when she was imprisoned for giving her life to Christ. Fortunately, Perpetua was imprisoned with five other Christians. This small band of believers continued to worship God and uplift one another throughout this ordeal. They all remained strong in their faith, confident that they were doing God's will. Perpetua reported that the suffering she experienced in prison only brought her closer to God, and increased her joy and peace. Twice, Perpetua's father came to the jail and begged her to renounce her faith. He was from a noble, well-connected family, and he could have assured her freedom if she had cooperated. Though it broke her heart to refuse him, she held fast.
The day before they were executed, this tiny band of Christians gathered together and had an agape meal, an honored tradition in the early Church. Then, each of the believers was thrown in the arena with a wild animal. Most of the believers were gored to death, but the crowd protested at the sight of Perpetua's body covered in bloody wounds, so she was removed from the arena and beheaded by a soldier. Somehow they thought this was more humane than death at the mercy of an animal. We may think the story of Perpetua had a tragic, senseless ending, but it was examples of a steadfast faith like Perpetua's that inspired generations of believers after her.
You and I will probably never have our lives physically threatened because we follow Jesus, but perseverence is particularly important in serving our Lord.
Lord Jesus, faithfully I will serve. Amen.
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