Today’s Scripture: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Romans 8:35‑37
Polycarp was a pastor in the city of Smyrna. Persecutors wanted to stop Christianity from spreading, so they searched for the church’s leader who was now in his eighties. When the authorities found him, he welcomed his captors and gave them food and drink. He then asked them for an hour to pray.
They allowed him to pray because they were not intimidated by this old man. His hour-long prayer turned into two hours. Some who were arresting him wondered why they had gone to so much trouble to capture him. Eventually, they took him to the Roman arena. All Polycarp had to do was denounce his faith, and they would let him go. The Roman proconsul listed the various forms of execution, but Polycarp replied with these words. “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”1
They brought him to the stake on which they would burn him. As they were going to nail him to the pole, he told them that they didn’t need to because he would stay there. He knew it was what God wanted for him then.
Those watching claimed that it wasn’t like watching flesh burn in fire, but more like bread that was baking or gold glowing in a furnace. His death wasn’t a terrible thing to watch because he was in God’s will. This story is a great illustration of how God can make us “as sheep for the slaughter” into “more than conquerors.”
In our tribulation, in our distress, in our persecution, God has made us beyond victorious, “more than conquerors.” Don’t be discouraged during trials; remember we are on the winning side. God is with us through it all.
1The Martyrdom of Polycarp. https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/polycarp/
Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.