I’ve been reading recently about how many Christians have been under very severe persecution in Iraq from the ISIS (or IS) expansion & attacks. According to the news, Christians in certain areas of Iraq are being given the choice to leave their homes, convert to Islam or die. I find this to be very troubling for Iraq given it’s long & strong history of Christian & Jewish presence in this area. From a broader perspective, Christianity has always faced varying degrees of persecution throughout the world at various times. For example, currently North Korea, is a very dangerous place for a Christian to try & survive without denying their faith. For that matter, it seems like sometimes Christians are the best at eating their own – being judgmental, exclusive, elitist and capricious, but that’s for a different blog ,)
Here are a few things to consider:
- pray for our brothers and sisters – Paul talks about bearing each others burdens in Gal 6:2; As the body of Christ, let’s be very prayerful for our fellow members who are in such difficult situations
- persecution grows the church – hardship forces us to clarify our priorities & the right choices help our roots to go deep; deep roots create great strength & healthy fruit
- Gal 5:15 talks about being careful not to bite & devour each other – there’s enough external persecution that we don’t need to tear each other down; let’s build up more than we cut down 🙂
I’ve been thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mom, and how she had a pretty tough road to walk, being pregnant out of wedlock in a culture that strongly frowned on “that type of thing”. If you think about Mary’s situation, she went through a pretty tricky season.
In different but also similar ways to Mary, we all have lots of challenges & difficulties. So if I look at the what Mary said in her season of unwed pregnancy, it helps me to know how to manage my own struggles. Simply put, Mary said, “My soul magnifies The Lord”. We can magnify the problem or we can magnify The Lord, let’s chose wisely 🙂
Have you ever felt like you’re on your last straw? Sometimes we go through challenges, seasons & struggles that are well beyond our natural abilities & wisdom. If you’re like me, I can find myself getting quagmired in these things at the expense of trusting God. There are times when I get stuck in what seems impossible & I can get discouraged. Ever feel this way?
This morning I was having this kind of conversation with God about a few issues & I was reminded of a verse that is really helping me:
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.
So lets remember that God is more than adequate for the various “last straws” that may be happening in our lives 🙂
From time to time, we all face hardships, struggles and difficulties. Sometimes we face calamaties that are nothing less than totally overwhelming and understandably, we all want to get out of these difficulties. Simply put, we want deliverance from these situations. Even better, we’d like to be spared from these things. But as we both know, life doesn’t always stay in the utopia zone. Sometimes we have to go through the hardship & struggle. When this happens and we aren’t delivered from the struggle, then we can most certainly trust that God will give us exactly what we need to get to the other side – strength, wisdom, comfort, genuine love . . . . The Trinity is enough.
I’ve been thinking about Abraham lately & how God tested him in Genesis 22 and instructed him to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, Isaac. Thankfully, we can read the end of the chapter & celebrate with Abraham that God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac – God sees our needs and has provision waiting for those needs. But I’ve been thinking about the 3 day journey that Abraham took with Isaac to get to the place where he was supposed to sacrifice his son. If I were in Abraham’s sandals, those 3 days would have been the absolute & most abhorrent days of my life – knowing what I was assigned by God to do. The revelation at the end of the journey was nothing less than heavenly (Abraham experienced God in an extremely powerful way) but the journey was nothing less than hell.
Sometimes the journey in our life can be an almost living hell, but let me encourage you that God is walking with you for every step and there’s a great possibility that through this journey, you will come to know God in such a heavenly way that the hell of the journey will pale in comparison to the heaven of the revelation 🙂
In less than a week, I’m going back to Angola w www.savingmoses.org & I have some mixed thoughts about this visit. Of course, I love the people with whom we work & I have nothing but massive respect for the daily work they do. I’m also eager to see some old friends since this will be my 4th visit & I’m getting to make some nice friendships. These are nice things but there are some not very nice things that I experience on these trips. It’s not pleasant to hold a baby who is malnourished & is struggling to survive. It’s difficult to see frenzied moms who are doing everything in their power to keep their baby alive. It’s hard for me sometimes to try & explain the needs I see to an audience that can occasionally be apathetic & cold. But when everything is said & done, despite the tremendous privation I see & the gut wrenching feelings that I experience, on these trips I sense Jesus is very real ways that I’m often unable to explain & because of Jesus’ presence, the disconcerting thoughts are not as severe. Traveling with Jesus helps me to have peace in my mind & heart
Lately, it seems like I’ve had a lot of opposition & resistance. To be clear, some of this is self inflicted but it seems to me that many of the difficulties in which I find myself are kind of random & just the nature of remaining faithful to God. It’s easy to stay faithful when things are smoothy, groovy. But it can get tricky when we seem to be continually bombarded with opposition & resistance.
Here are some things that are helping me now:
*”now” is a key word – rehearsing the past & worrying about the future can deflate & contaminate the present
*keep going & trust that God will give you wisdom, rest & strength for each moment
*learn – take full advantage of this season to increase your wisdom & trust in God
*get strong – opposition can build strength if we don’t quit
* smile & be confident that God working out everything way beyond well as we stay in love with God & aligned with God’s purpose 🙂