I have often thought about what it took to be a part of the early church in the days when your life could have been required of you just for being a Christian. What kind of person did it take to say that they were a Christian, as well as continue to act that way in light of all that hung over their head?
I used to be really glad that I did not live at that time. I was not sure whether I would have been able to keep the faith while so many around me were being martyred. Would I have had the moral quality to continue doing what I was supposed to be doing?
But I then realized that God is going to accomplish His purpose in us no matter when we live. God has His ways of testing us in order to build holy righteous character, and He will continue to do so, until we learn what we need to. Living in this era has its unique set of challenges, each probative in its own way, that can test every fiber of our being.
In retrospect, not to minimize any of those that went before us, staying alive and persevering day after day until the end, may very well be the more difficult task to accomplish. But, we can take comfort in the fact that God, our Father, Who is orchestrating and overseeing our growth, will continue to do so until the end (compare Philippians 1:6). Knowing this also, that if we endure, we will receive the gift with its rewards (compare Matthew 24:13).