Last week I sat down on my green sofa, placed my laptop on my lap, and planned to write. I imagined words flowing out of me. Words would encourage you and build you up. I imagined my words filling you with courage and boldness to face the world in spite of Christians being murdered on American soil. Thoughts of how we don’t understand real persecution and how we didn’t care enough until it happened to us rushed over me. I realized that I didn’t have the words. The words that were necessary to embolden myself in the midst of guilt for not caring enough – and not truly understanding – and being heart broken about my brothers and sister in Christ being shot in the face was too much!
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being able to find the words. I’m sorry for my silence. The eloquence necessary to give you what you need in this situation does not come easily for me. All I have for you is honesty, and the Word. He knows. He understands. He is not surprised or taken aback or scared. He’s not worried. He is faithful. He is in control. He is good. I know we just went over this: reminding ourselves that He’s good. But I think that in these moments, when Christians are being crucified (yet we still feel so far from it) we need to come back to the truth.
They are not standing up for nothing. Stephen prayed for his persecutors! He prayed for them as they killed him. Lord, we are missing so much, and we are so scared, but You are so good. Jesus knew this was going to happen. Before He left this earth He told us what to do. What better words can I go to than those of our Savior? We can’t always find the words, but more often than we realize the perfect words have already been spoken.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Jesus in Matthew 5
The word translated “blessed” here means “when God extends His benefits” or “happy, blessed, to be envied.” You are in such a position when you are under persecution for your faith that others should be envious of you. That is your position, although our feelings don’t always match up with what God has said you are. I’m not saying that it will, it doesn’t always for me. I am saying, He is never surprised. He knew. He warned. He is with us in it all – even when we can’t quite figure it out.