This is different than probably anything I have ever written. I have wanted my writings to be a means of encouragement to those who are struggling or who need a pick-me-up. I do believe, however, that God laid this on my heart so I hope you will bear with me for this very solemn post. I am sure most of you have heard about what is happening over in Iraq; however, if you can’t handle the details, feel free to skip to the second paragraph.
I have read a couple short articles on the atrocity that has been happening in Iraq the past few days. I didn’t read more than that because, honestly, I can’t handle it. My heart is breaking for those people, however, as I pray for their strength and comfort. Many watched their children beheaded or cut in two. They had to flee their homes which have now been taken over by this terrorist group. I am reminded that Christian persecution has not ended. For a while, it has been out of sight and out of mind, but I am endeavoring to begin praying for the persecuted church like never before.
Here in America, we have had it so easy. Any persecution we have faced has been really minor compared to what our Brothers and Sisters in many other countries have experienced. I am grateful for this but I don’t believe this freedom will last forever. We very well may live to see the day when our lives are in danger as well. If this doesn’t happen in my lifetime, my children and grandchildren may see that day. Would I stand firm as so many martyrs have done and boldly declare that Jesus is my Lord? The Sunday School answer is, “Yes!” I know that’s easier said than done though. I think I would probably have the boldness to die for Christ but what about being tortured day in and day out for months on end? Or what about seeing my children tortured in front of my eyes? Is my faith and devotion to Christ strong enough to withstand those things?
I am not trying to scare anyone. Life is plenty scary and uncertain without me adding to that. But I do want to tell you that this is the time to choose who you will serve. This is the time to get as close to God as you can without any compromise. If you are not fully surrendered to Him now and willing to do whatever He asks of you, you will not be instantaneously willing to suffer for Him when that day comes. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It’s not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of when and to what degree. The call is still the same, however. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).
I am challenging myself as I challenge all of you. Whether you agree with me or not that America will see immense persecution, I hope you will at least agree that this is a wake-up call. Christians in other countries are being massacred while we live a life of extreme ease. If this doesn’t break your heart, it is way too hard. We do not live here because we are special. We have been the recipients of God’s gracious mercy. Every day that we wake up, we should be rejoicing and asking God how we can best serve Him with the time that He gives us on this earth. God told the lukewarm Church in Laodicea that He would spit them out of His mouth. I can’t imagine anything more dreadful.
God, give me a renewed determination to live for You wholeheartedly. Remind me daily to pray for my Brothers and Sisters who are being persecuted for Your name’s sake. Fill me with the fire of Your Holy Spirit so that I do not become lukewarm or mediocre. Continue the work that You’ve begun because You are faithful! And please give comfort and a special grace to Your people in Iraq who have lost their homes and seen friends and family members brutally murdered. No one could get through that with You. Let them feel Your presence in the midst of their grief more than ever before.