Hypothetical questions can be interesting, but easily speculative when dealing with biblical issues. For example, What if Adam had never sinned? or What if Israel had received Christ in faith at His first coming rather than rejecting Him to be crucified? (Note: according to the words of Jesus in Luke 19:41, Israel could have had the peace of the messianic kingdom if she had not rejected Him).
Rather than fretting over hypotheticals, a better approach to this subject is to recognize that our job and calling is to obey the moral will of God as articulated in Scripture, and to leave the rest to God. We find support for this way of thinking in Isaiah 48 where God says to Israel, “If only you had paid attention to My commandments, then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, and your offspring like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence” (Isa. 48:18-19). God’s Word is clear: If Israel would have listened to the pre-exilic prophets and turned from its sin to believe the Lord and follow His will, Israel would not have gone into the Babylonian exile.
What we have here is a principle that each one of us can apply to our own lives every day. Our job is NOT to know the future, i.e., the things which God has decreed according to His sovereign will but not revealed to man (cf. Deut. 29:29). Our job is to know the things that He has commanded us in His Word, i.e., His moral will, and to yield our hearts to love and follow Him according to His Word (cf. Deut. 6:4-9; Matt. 22:37-40).
What if persecution or some other kind of suffering should come? The answer is still the same: Keep trusting the Lord and follow His will as articulated in Scripture. As Peter explains it, we are to, “entrust [our] souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet. 4:19). God is good and He has a plan that is good and perfect for those who know and love Him (Rom. 8:28). We may not always like the suffering that comes from life in a sin-cursed world, but the best thing we can do is to keep trusting God and following the Lord Jesus Christ and to let God use those things for good (cf. 2 Cor. 4:17: “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison”). Let us keep our hearts tender to God and His Word no matter what life may bring.
Love, Pastor Tim