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From the Word: 10 Do not fear things that you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you may be tested, and you will experience tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:10–11)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism
The Third Petition
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What does this mean?
The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it will also be done among us.
How is this done?
God’s will is done when he hinders and destroys every evil design and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature that would keep us from hallowing his name and prevent the coming of his kingdom. And God’s will is done when he strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his Word and in faith to the end of our earthly lives. This is his good and gracious will.
Pulling It Together: We are to fear God rather than the things of this life. Suffering, even great suffering, may be our lot, yet it is only for the space of time. A Day is coming when time is undone, and with it all the tribulation of this life. Then there will be everlasting joy and peace. In the meanwhile, it remains God’s will for us to be faithful—even in the face of death.
Polycarp, that faithful disciple of St. John, and the bishop of Smyrna, faced death by wild beasts or fire, unless he recanted his faith in Christ. The blessed bishop would rather be burned than betray his Lord. And so, he was led to the pyre. He went joyfully, knowing that the fire would burn for an hour while a fire fit for the faithless would burn forever.
It is God’s will that we remain faithful regardless of this life’s troubles. Troubles come and go but the faithful will remain in the presence of their Lord forever.
Prayer: Give me such faith, O Father, that I may confess with the blessed bishop of Smyrna, “I am a Christian!” Amen.
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