I have to be honest; this Christmas feels different. While I have been concerned for the persecuted church for many years, it was not until 2013 that I met Naghmeh Abedini, and became deeply concerned for Saeed and their family. Last Christmas Saeed was one of the persecuted Christians I prayed for, but did not know. While I still do not know him, I know his family, and the pain I see has added a whole new understanding of the intense suffering of Christians around the world. Not only do those imprisoned suffer, but their loved ones struggle in a very deep way.
So many trials can enter our lives. You may not have as glaring a trial as having a wrongfully imprisoned loved one, but still may be plagued with a strong pain. Maybe you have marriage troubles, broken relationships that you have no idea how to heal, financial worries, or no money to buy gifts or even a holiday meal… The list could go on, but you see my point. Life can be painful; the question is what do we do during that pain?
God gives us a glowing example of how to suffer well, in the story of Job. Job conversed with God, even questioning Him, but through it all He worshiped and acknowledged God as Lord. He continued to honor the one who made him, even in great emotional and physical pain.
Kay Arthur posted the following on Facebook today:
“Sometimes the trials and pressures of life make it almost impossible to be happy. But Paul did not tell his readers to be happy. He encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord.
God, Thank you that I can rejoice in You when my circumstances stink! Now may I just remember that! Amen”
Isn’t that just the thing we need to remember when life becomes unstable at best. We can always, always, always praise God that all this craziness will one day be set right. I actually think we are more likely to desire His return and righteousness to come when we see first-hand the unfairness of this world.
We can always thank Him for His redeeming love, even if no one else loves us. He certainly desires for people to love one another. He tells us to. But guess what? His love alone is enough! Be thankful, no matter what else may go wrong, that He loved you enough to completely pay for your sins so that He could have you, who he loves, with Him forever! Now that is love!
We can be thankful always, that even though the evil one and human selfishness wreaks havoc in this wicked age, that a far better, perfect age is coming – soon! So we will rejoice in the Lord! And yes, Lord, may You remind us at our lowest points that all these things are true, and trump our present sufferings.