I know I just posted this morning, but these thoughts have been bouncing around my head all day and I need to get them out. I know this is a heavy topic, and not one I usually feel compelled to write about, but it is also a relevant and important one. I don’t know why, but I know I am supposed to write this today.
I spent most of this morning at a loss for words. Broken as I read the news stories coming out of Iraq. Struggling to fathom that the words I read are true and not part of a terrible work of fiction or from a history book.
I know evil is rampant, but the news coming from Iraq magnify evil in horrific fashion.
Stories of Christians, forced to flee with nothing or convert, and of men and women slaughtered before their families, neighbors and friends. Hateful. Ignorant. Unacceptable.
Photos of the dead. Graphic. True.
Stories of children. Beheaded. Heads stuck on poles in a public park. I can’t believe those words can even be written or that those things have happened. Terrifying. Barbaric. Violent. Medieval. Inhuman. Evil.
How can these things be happening? On what planet is any of this OK? How can another human being EVER even think of doing these things let alone DO them?
Defenseless. Caught up in a spiritual and physical battle they likely do not understand.
I think it is the stories of the children that grip me so tightly. That make me look at mine and make it hard to breathe as I realize how blessed we are to be HERE and not THERE. It makes me want to scoop my kids into my arms and never let go. Ever.
But in these stories, their parents’ arms provide no protection.
My mind cannot seem to find rest. My soul HURTS over this, and cries out. As a believer, news like this requires a response of prayer.
Lacking words to pray, I find myself boldly praying, over and over, “Come, Lord Jesus”. This world is so dark, so evil, and so in need of Jesus. How long will evil rule on this earth? How many times will people hate others based on physical traits, beliefs, and well, anything that makes another person different from the next? How does hate grow so deep in a person that they think they are justified in taking the life of another? And how do GROUPS of people come alongside and join in these actions?
I’ve been praying all day long, and yet still can’t put my prayers succinctly into words.
Words don’t say enough.
The problem is too atrocious, too violent, too hateful for me to fathom how to effectively cover it in prayer. I’m not sure the words exist to express this FEELING.
But I keep praying.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.- Romans 8:26-27
I am grateful that God knows the desires of our heart when words can’t seem to describe the sour sickening pit in our stomach. Even in our silence as we just feel our emotions, He receives the unutterable prayers from the deepest part of our soul.
I know that in many countries across the globe, atrocious things happen on a daily basis. Of most of these things, I am ignorant because I live in the United States. I am ashamed to say that I have not been faithful to keep up with the persecution of the church, except when I get the pamphlet in my church bulletin and even then, the prayers are far too brief.
But never have I been affected like this. Like the truth of these things never penetrated this deep below the surface before. The burden is heavy. Dark. Oppressive.
Perhaps it is because I’ve been praying for a softer soul; that my heart would break over what breaks God’s heart…perhaps it is because I took the time to read the stories in detail.
I am often guilty of turning the horror off. Of changing the channel (not just when my kids are in the room – which I will continue to do), of choosing not to read the news stories, choosing to be oblivious to current events. I am not faithful to lift these people up because I do not know what is going on.
The stories seem endless. Repetitive. They keep coming. I think along the way I lost confidence in the effectiveness of my prayers and attention since these horrible and evil things keep happening.
But my prayers are effective and must be offered. He hears them ALL and it is my disobedience NOT to be praying them. Even when I don’t have the words.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. – John 5:14
I need to be more faithful in prayer. Not just that God would intervene, but that His presence would be known to both the persecuted and the persecutors. That He will shelter those fleeing from harm, provide for them, and move non-Christians in Iraq to aid them, hide them, and usher them to safe places. That God will give peace and comfort in supernatural abundance as only He can, and that those whose lives are lost in HIS name will be remembered as faithful servants.
I pray that this uprising of persecution will bring CHANGE to the hearts of an exponential audience.
It is hard to see any good that could come of this. I struggle to see how this can be. The word ‘good’ mixed in with this type of horror hurts my brain.
But when you read the Bible, start to finish, you see the story of redemption. You see that there is ALWAYS hope, and how God is ALWAYS working even if He seems silent.
The truth remains, good WILL come even if we can’t see how.
I am sure that in all of this; God is NOT silent. He is not unaware. He IS working, loving, moving, protecting, providing, comforting, sheltering, burning with righteous anger, and is hurting over the mistreatment of His beloved. His plan is bigger than this, bigger than those committing these offenses. They have claimed the position of judge and executioner. They have rejected the true God and have made a grievous error that will curse their eternity.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Despite the atrocity, I have to cling to hope that there will be stories of the miracles God has performed and IS performing as I write this. There will be stories of those He sheltered, provided for, and led to safety. There will be stories of comfort, peace and forgiveness. Of the HOPE His children are clinging to as they flee.
But for now. I continue to struggle. To hurt. To be confused. To be ANGRY. To be grateful for where I live, and where my children live, and at the same time, feel guilty that we are so sheltered, so unaware, so callous to the news stories we hear every day that we turn away and don’t even say a prayer when we hear or see them.
I don’t know what the answer is to stop this. We know from the Bible that persecution will always exist, until the end of days. I don’t think anyone wants to go to war, I don’t think adding loss of more life helps anything, and I also think doing nothing is just as bad. I am grateful it is not my decision. I pray for those who have to make decisions like these.
I do know that today, this story, and others like it, has awakened something inside me.
A fervor and understanding that it is my job to pray for the persecuted on a regular basis. Not just when I catch the news, but with endurance, and with intention. For now, this is my role, my measure of obedience, as I stand with the believers around the world. To be AWARE of what is going on…not to be consumed with it, but to be informed enough to pray for specific places, not just in general.
Today I am SHOUTING that this has to stop. Imploring God to intervene. Standing with the church around the world, interceding on the behalf of those in harm’s way, in Iraq and elsewhere.