When people hear of the persecution facing Christians around the world, it’s common for them to say something like, “I guess we should be more grateful for the privilege of living in a free country where we can worship in freedom.” Has it ever struck you as odd how we thank God for the privilege of not suffering for persecution when early Christians (and many still today) thanked God for the privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake? See Acts 5:41, for example.
When Babylas was the bishop of Antioch, he managed to offend a Roman governor for reasons that are not entirely clear to historians. Whatever the reason, when he refused to obey governor’s command to offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods as a means to gain the his forgiveness, Babylas was thrown into prison where he was chained, badly mistreated and eventually died in 251 A.D. Before his death, he asked to be buried in his chains and went to his death rejoicing that he was counted worthy to suffer for Christ. His last words were, “Return unto your rest, my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”