Day 17: Hearing from Sisters Perpetua and Felicity
1. Center Down
Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe! Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “Our life…” As you exhale whisper, “…is hidden in Christ.”
2. Slowly read aloud the following Scripture
(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, ESV)
For further exploration:
3. Kingdom Prayer
O Lord, You are our God. We extol and praise Your Name; You are faithful and true. You are an eternal Rock in whom we find refuge. There is no Savior but You – none can deliver but You. You are the First and the Last; there is no other God besides You; no one can compare to You. You alone made all things; You stretched out the heavens and created the earth alone. Father, we thank You for hearing the cries of the Righteous who are being persecuted around the world. Thank You for being the God who saves and delivers.
Triumphant Father, by faith, we confess that our suffering brother and sisters will put their hope and confidence in You. You are a tower of refuge to the poor and to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. We acknowledge that Your arm is not too weak to save all those who call upon You with faith. We declare that those who are called by Your Name are humbling themselves, praying and seeking Your face and turning from their wicked ways. As they do this, Father, we know that You are hearing from heaven, forgiving their sins and You will restore the land!
Eternal Lord, You direct the heart of a king like a stream of water, so we commit the governmental leadership in these countries to You and confess that their hearts will be pliable in Your hands. We declare that these leaders will remove the heavy yoke of oppression from our brothers and sisters. You, the God of Jacob, will restore their land and make it a pride for the ages. We declare that the sound of weeping will no longer be heard. Instead, sounds of rejoicing, happiness, and praise will come from Your people as they proclaim that You are their God. Nothing is impossible for You!
Father, as the God who heals all diseases, we ask that You, Yahweh-Rapha, heal our brothers and sisters if they are ill and preserve their lives for Your sake. Yahweh-Yireh, as the God who provides, please stabilize the economies of the countries where our sisters and brothers live so that those who are working will be able to earn fair wages and provide for their families. Holy Spirit, inspire other followers of Jesus around the world to send aid to their persecuted sisters and brothers. Holy Spirit, impart wisdom upon the suffering saints so that they will be able to withstand their persecution knowing that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness have a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Father, we ask that You forgive Your people for any sins they may have committed in their distress. Forgive the leaders of the counties who oppress Your people. Father, please forgive us for our lack of knowledge and inattention to the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. Holy Spirit, help them to forgive their oppressors and to not hold bitterness in their hearts.
Holy Spirit, help them to not yield to temptation but deliver them from the evil one.
Lord, vast is Your power. You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great might; nothing is impossible with You. The Heavens declare Your glory, sending forth Your message to the ends of the world without a word or a sound. Let all servants, great and small, fear You, since all salvation, glory and might belong to You, O Lord. Let everything that has breath praise You! Amen.
Scripture References for the Written Text: Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 94:22,
Isaiah 43:11, Isaiah 44:6,24, Isaiah 25:4, Isaiah 59:1-2, II Chronicles 7:14, Proverbs 21:1, Proverbs 11:1, Habakkuk 2:2, Isaiah 58:9-12, Psalm 31:22, Isaiah 60:15, Isaiah 61:3, Matthew 19:26, Psalm 103:3, Nehemiah 9:15, Ezekiel 34:27,
Proverbs 21:3, Psalm 91:5-6, Exodus 22:21, John 16:13,
Matthew 5:10, Matthew 6:13, Jeremiah 32:17, Psalm 19:1-4, Revelation 19:1,5, Psalm 150:6
4. Concepts to Consider
Our sisters in Christ, Perpetua and her servant and friend Felicity were martyred for their faith in the year 203 AD. Perpetua was born into a wealthy family in Carthage, North Africa. She was a highly educated woman for her time. She could write (very rare!) and was fluent in both Greek and Latin. At some point after her marriage, Perpetua and Felicity began to follow Jesus and to attend a local house church.
Being a Christian during this time was dangerous business. Since the emperor, Septimius Severus demanded that he be treated as a god, followers of Jesus were often jailed, tortured, and sometimes killed for their refusal to make an incense offering to the emperor. Perpetua and Felicity were jailed and sentenced to death for refusing to compromise their faith. Perpetua and Felicity gave up everything (status, privilege, wealth, parents, siblings, husbands, friends, and even their infant children who were raised by relatives) to follow after Jesus. Perpetua kept a diary throughout their time in prison. It is still available for us to read today as a testimony to her and Felicity’s unswerving devotion to Jesus.
Here is an excerpt from the end of her diary, written by a fellow follower of Jesus after the Saints’ deaths:
Now dawned the day of their victory, and they went forth from the prison into the amphitheater as it were into heaven, cheerful and bright of countenance; if they trembled at all, it was for joy, not for fear.
Perpetua followed behind, glorious of presence, as a true spouse of Christ and darling of God; at whose piercing look all cast down their eyes. Felicity likewise, rejoicing that she had borne a child in safety, that she might fight with the beasts, came now from blood to blood, from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash after her travail in a second baptism.
And when they had been brought to the gate and were being compelled to put on, the men the dress of the priests of Saturn, the women the dress of the priestesses of Ceres, the noble Perpetua remained of like firmness to the end, and would not. For she said: For this cause came we willingly unto this, that our liberty might not be obscured. For this cause have we devoted our lives, that we might do no such thing as this; this we agreed with you. Injustice acknowledged justice; the tribune suffered that they should be brought forth as they were, without more ado. Perpetua began to sing, as already treading on the Egyptian’s head.
Then when they came into Hilarian’s (the Roman proconsul who had condemned them) sight, they began to say to Hilarian, stretching forth their hands and nodding their heads: You judge us, they said, and God you. At this the people being enraged besought that they should be vexed with scourges before the line of gladiators (those namely who fought with beasts). Then truly they gave thanks because they had received somewhat of the sufferings of the Lord.
These sisters were not “superwomen.” They were ordinary young women who loved Jesus with all they had and with everything they were. May we remember them and look to them as examples of prayer, faith, friendship, and courage.
5. Reflection Questions
(You are encouraged to record your responses to the following inquiries in some tangible, meaningful way, i.e., write, draw, create, vlog/blog, sing… etc.)
- Personal Reflection: As you consider the lives of Perpetua and Felicity, what is one thing you will take away that will enhance your walk with Jesus?
- Kingdom Reflection: Today there are many who are suffering because of their faith in Christ. How will you support our sisters and brothers around the world?
(Resources: https://www.persecution.com/; https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/) Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image.
You may want to set a timer.