Monday, February 16, 2015

when we don't want to read: moving from apathy to prayer

21 Christian men were beheaded this weekend by the Islamic State.  It’s trending on Facebook as Christian friends across America share their horror and a call to pray for our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted and killed.  21.  And that’s just the deaths that were made public.  Who knows how many Christians have died anonymously today, their churches burned down, dying in the darkness of a brothel, or beaten to death for not denying Christ.  

But I brush past it.  I look to other posts about SNL’s 40th anniversary or a baby’s birthday or anything, anything else to help me forget the distant horror and my inability to prevent these things from happening to my brothers and sisters.

I shudder at my apathy, my attempts to move on before sitting with this tragedy and praying for the ones who lose everything for the gospel.  The gospel that I have the audacity to say means everything to me as well.

So I stop, I try to think, make myself reflect.

I think about my family.  My family.  The one thing that helps me connect the dots of empathy when others suffer.  What if my husband was on that video?  What if today my daughter was stolen from me and sold into slavery?  The stabs of pain that rise instinctively in my heart make the souls of sisters who lost their husbands, brothers, fathers today appear in my mind and rest in my heart. Screams buried in pillows and unconsolable weeping on the floor.  Crying out to God for vengeance, to God for mercy.  Or no words, just Spirit groaning that we cannot, dare not utter.

When I stop and think, and reflect on the God these men died for so bravely... I understand the God in my Bible better than I did before I woke up this morning.  I understand why God will judge and avenge.  What father will not seek justice when his children are brutally murdered before him?

I understand better why the Jews cried out for God to repay their enemies after they were oppressed and killed by their adversaries.  I understand why Jesus is coming back and will separate the wheat from the chaff.  Because my soul wants vengeance, I want justice for every innocent person that dies worldwide.  For every child that dies without a choice, for every child that loses their parents, for every wife that loses her husband, for every parent that loses their children.  I want to scream, “No more!  Jesus, precious Jesus, please come back!  No more bloodshed!”

And then I think about Jesus Himself, dying brutally on the cross, no stranger to suffering.  Dying for us, dying that mercy could be extended even to the ones who killed Him.  

Mercy.  My God, the God of the 21, is not only a God of judgment.  But a God of mercy.  And He waits, in His waiting for judgment there is mercy.  I remember that there is mercy because all the murderers and the murdered are all children of God, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. He gives one more minute, one more hour, one more day, one more year.  One more chance for the murderers, the ones who murder innocent people and the ones who murder in their heart, for the adulterers, for the liars, for the coveters, for the abusers, for the thieves, for the gossipers, for the apathetic, for the careless, for the victims.  One more chance for every one to come to Him, because He made us, He loves us, and wills that none should perish for eternity even though we die temporarily... He has mercy because our eternity is hanging in the balance, and He wants us to spend it with Him.

Most days judgment and mercy are hard to reconcile.  But today, if I stop and reflect, they are clearer than ever before.  Today I’m praying for justice, and praying for mercy.  Today I’m praying for comfort and peace for the sufferers, and that the oppressors would meet the Prince of Peace.  I’m praying that the blood that was spilled would not be forgotten, and trust that God who sees even the sparrow fall, will not let it be in vain.

Today I will not pass by, and will petition the God who sees all to have mercy and judgment in His time.

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