An Expositional Sermon
This reminds me of a brother in Christ in the early church, Polycarp. He was the Bishop of Smyrna, and he lived to an old age. He was a disciple of the Apostle John, and he stood firm in His faith even to death. Here’s the account of his death:
[A]s Polycarp entered the stadium, there came a voice from heaven: “Be strong, Polycarp, and courageous.” And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice. And then, as he was brought forward, there was a great uproar when they heard that Polycarp had been arrested. Therefore, when he was brought before him, the proconsul asked if he were Polycarp. And when he confessed that he was, the proconsul tried to persuade him to recant, saying, “Have respect for your age,”. . . when the magistrate persisted and said, “Swear the oath, and I will release you; revile Christ,” Polycarp replied, “For eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” But as he continued to insist, saying, “Swear by the genius of Caesar,” he answered: “If you vainly suppose that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as you request, and pretend not to know who I am, listen carefully: I am a Christian.”
I can image that as the mighty men were dragging Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire, and that as the apostle Peter was likely crucified upside down, that as the other disciples were killed for their faith, that as Polycarp faced death at the hands of Rome, that as our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are being killed for their faith; that they may feel at times that God isn’t there, but friends, He was, and He is. God will never abandon His people. If you’re afraid of the threats of this world read 1 Peter. There we see that God uses trials to purify and strengthen our faith, that in them God keeps us through His power through faith, that we shouldn’t be surprised when people oppose us or try to hurt us because of our faith in Christ. Pray that God would strengthen us to be like the Apostles in Acts 5:41-42, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
 Holmes, Michael W. ed. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations, Third Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 315-7.