The first Christians endured great hardship while proclaiming the Gospel. Likewise, we are a step closer to persecution for our faith with each passing day that our American culture drifts from the beliefs and values of the Church. This reality should not surprise us. How do we get ready for suffering?
The first instruction for preparation is to be "sober-minded." We are always being formed by something. If we are daily seeking to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we are being transformed by His Spirit. If we are being informed by the world and ungodly people, then we are being conformed to the mindset of culture. We cannot experience joy if we are being shaped by worldliness. However, transformation by God brings joy, even in the midst of persecution.
The second instruction for preparation is to provide generous hospitality. This act is far more than entertaining people. The compassion of God within us displays a "love for the stranger" that is extraordinary. This compassion causes the unbelieving world to wonder why we would love others who cannot provide us with personal gain.
The third instruction is to display the grace of God to others through serving. Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift. This gift, assigned to us by God, is one of the powerful ways our Father shows grace to others. His grace flows into us (the gift) and out to others when we serve. As this occurs, God is glorified and His people are encouraged and strengthened. During a time of suffering, the spiritual gifts become great beacons of His light to a dark world.
Suffering for our faith in Jesus is not an option. Where the Church has experienced persecution, God has miraculously increased the faith of His people. While we do not pray for suffering to come to us, we should not be surprised when it does. We embrace that God is at work in every circumstance. Therefore, we entrust our lives to our faithful Creator and serve others well.