This past Sunday we were led to pray for the Christians being persecuted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Missionary reports were made that “Isis is systematically going house to house to all the Christians and asking the children to denounce Jesus. He said so far not one child has. And so far all have consequently been killed. But not the parents.”
Being a parent myself has changed everything for me. A year or two ago, I would have felt bad. But now, now I have my own son that I love. While I can only imagine what these parents are going through, I feel my heart breaking with theirs.
My first instinct is to push it away from my mind; forget about it. My son is here, safe. I love him. We are all right.
But stop. My son is no better than those children in Iraq and Syria. No more loved than they are. He would be no more mourned by me, than they are by their parents. He would feel no more terror or pain, and no less, than what those children are surely facing.
And his life is no more, and no less, precious in God’s eyes.
You see, those children’s lives are not precious in our government’s eyes. Not enough for them to do anything about it, as perhaps, we hope, they would do something if it were our children being murdered.
And for many of us, these children’s lives are not precious enough in our eyes. Not precious enough for us to truly grieve their deaths. Not enough to be praying, daily, constantly, for the surviving ones. Not enough, oh, to be fasting before God in sackcloth and ashes. Not precious enough to cry for, not precious enough to remember.
But thinking of my son, and realizing that these children are no less than my child, and every bit as loved as mine, I cried out to God, asking him why he allows this to happen.
And this thought came to me—
He loves Jonathan more.
He loves the children more.
More than I can love my son,
More than those parents can love theirs.
As much as we hurt when we see our children hurting, God hurts more.
In no way is he “unfeeling” towards their deaths. His tears must far surpass our own.
Jesus loves the little children.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.
As much as I hate to say this, as much as it sounds “wrong,” I do believe it:
These children’s deaths are precious. And they are beautiful, such beautiful deaths, because they are dying for Jesus. They are unwilling to deny Jesus and his love.
Jesus is that real to them, means that much to them, that as little children in the face of terror, they will not deny his name.
And not only is their death precious and beautiful in God’s eyes because they are willing to give their lives for him, but they will be rewarded.
Now, God is wiping all the tears away from their eyes and comforting them. Now, they will feel no more fear, no more sorrow, no more pain.
Now, they know the true joy of being in God’s presence physically, which is something that we here on earth cannot even imagine. But I know this—that it is far more joyful and fulfilling and beautiful than anything we have ever experienced.
And their rewards are very, very great in Heaven.
So, Christians like me: We are here, for now, in comfort. Our children are safe. But how can we forget our brothers and sisters?
Pray for them!
Pray for the parents and adults, that they would be courageous and continue to instill this in their children. That they would stand strong in their faith. That they would realize what a powerful testimony their children are being for the Lord. That they would see how their lives are bringing glory to the name of our God.
Pray that they would be comforted, by knowing that God loves their children more than they could ever love them, and that they would keep their hope in eternal life, as they will surely see their children once again.
Pray that God gives them his peace and his presence, that he would relieve them of some of their pain.
Pray for the children, that as more of them are called to stand up as witnesses of Jesus Christ, that they would not be afraid. Pray that they would stand strong. Pray that God would be with them, holding their hands, through every minute. That they would never feel alone or abandoned, but as Stephen, when he was stoned to death, be able to say, “I see Jesus, seated at the Father’s right hand.”
Pray for ISIS—the individual men (and women) who make up this Islamic group. Pray, not that they would be destroyed, but that they would see this powerful testimony of the Christians and that they would come to know Christ as their Saviour.
For what are we all, but sinners saved by Christ. We all deserve death in hell, yet God extended grace to us. So pray for them to accept the grace extended to them. They can be forgiven.
Pray that the murders be stopped. Pray for protection for the Christians.
And pray for us. For forgiveness for our apathy and lack of love and caring. For our selfishness, in wanting to ignore the pain our brothers and sisters are feeling. Pray for us to be courageous, to face the persecutions that we face today. Our persecutions—who wants to be made fun of or left out because they are a Christian? Or perhaps miss out on opportunities—job, promotions, other things—because of our belief in Christ? May God forgive us for fearing man. May we be more courageous in sharing Jesus publicly.
And finally, pray for Christians around the world. These are frightening times. But we do not need to be afraid. So let us pray that we remember to trust in God, and remember that our Hope comes from him. This World is not our home. We’re just passing through.
Heaven is our home.