I listened to Jay Sekulow give another account of the atrocities occurring in the Middle East as another Syrian Christian community fell to ISIL.
The report consisted of 120-plus dead with claims of men being beheaded and their bodies hung on crosses while the women and children were sold into slavery.
Little girls are being forced into marriage to ISIL members and brutally raped.
My mind went to being a father with a family (including a precious daughter) that shares the same faith as those suffering through terrible religious persecution.
I can’t say I understand. That volume of suffering for our faith in Jesus Christ isn’t known within our borders.
I thought of those Christians in Syria and in other places that are hard pressed for their faith that share in the same promise in Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
This verse had to be coursing through the minds of the Christians who saw and are seeing firsthand the adversary roaring around like a lion seeking to devour in the form of men fueled by hate and bent on destruction.
Did those Christians expect to be delivered? Did they feel abandoned when the sword started to fall and when the atrocities began? For those still in the midst of the war on their faith and lives, are they still able to call on the name of Jesus expectantly right now as their families have been torn apart and their lives are forever disrupted by evil beyond evil?
I don’t know, but I hope so.
What I do know is they paid and are paying the ultimate price for faith.
We know He can put an end to the suffering. Our God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
But we also know there are martyrs in Heaven, allowed to die in the name of Jesus Christ. We serve a Lord that was martyred on our behalf.
Despite the loss of life and the horrific trauma, God’s promises are His promises, and His promises are good whether we can comprehend them or not.
Feeling powerless to make any difference in the lives of these brothers and sisters, I could only utter one phrase. “God, please do something.”
And as the Holy Spirit so often leads when you ask God, I heard (inaudibly)
Be Faithful To Pray
I was hit with how unfaithful I’ve been in prayer about what is going on around the world and reminded that God is faithful beyond what we are limited to see.
I was also reminded how being faithful to God and to others requires a deliberate asking of God to provide the faithfulness necessary to do so.
I won’t pretend that Christians in the United States don’t face some degrees of persecution or that the ravages of a diseased culture don’t launch an assault on our faith daily.
But there are people who believe in Jesus Christ who are being killed because they believe in Jesus Christ and it continues to happen in many parts of the world.
Where governments, armies and humanitarian efforts can’t or won’t provide the necessary protection, we can ask God to provide it through prayer.
We see the importance of prayer as Jesus went before God in the Garden of Gethsemane while also urging His disciples to pray.
Obviously our Lord saw it fit to request of God despite the way circumstances appeared.
The men, women and children in harm’s way need our prayers now.
If we don’t pray as Christians for our brothers and sisters, if we don’t treat these atrocities as real, if we turn a blind eye to the blood being shed, then maybe we risk losing our hearts for what God can do.
Be faithful to the persecuted and to God by continually asking Him to help you remain faithful in all things.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35-37
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” – 1 Peter 4:19
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” – Revelation 2:10
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-17