At some point, I hope someone will be able to explain to me the wisdom of going to the dentist on consecutive days to have work done on each side of my mouth. I figured I was being efficient in getting all the necessary work done quickly so that I could check it off my list. What I have discovered is that the only thing worse than one side of your mouth aching, is both sides of your mouth aching. Nothing really gnaws at you like a toothache; it’s not fun and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. In the midst of this I opened my email to read of yet another attack on Christians in a foreign country. One of my daily prayer guides today contained a story of a young boy whose arm had been hacked by a machete when Muslim extremists attacked Christians during a church service. I then happened across a ministry that is doing great work in the area of human trafficking. Suddenly I felt very foolish for the petty thoughts of my toothache.
Everyday there are new stories coming out about the suffering of our fellow human beings. Some are our brothers and sisters in Christ; others are waiting to be told about Jesus. All are in desperate need of His love and encouragement. We are the vehicles of delivery for that love. We cannot share love with those in need if we are unaware of their situations. It is very important that we make an effort to read the stories of those who are suffering. It is very important to walk down our streets with open eyes so that we do not miss the obvious needs around us. And it is very important that we ask God for discerning hearts to seek out those He would have us to help. In short, we must be aware of the needs that surround us both in our own cities and around the world.
Many choose to not seek out the hurting because they know it will require some form of sacrifice from them, whether that be in terms of time, emotion or money. We are a people whose lives of luxury have led to a growing aversion to sacrifice. For true followers of Jesus, the term sacrifice is somewhat of a misnomer. Whenever we “sacrifice”, we gain Christ. We give up something in this world, and we receive more of the next world into our lives. We forfeit what is imperfect and gain what is perfect. Where then is our sacrifice? To lose all is to gain Christ. This is not sacrifice; this is reason to celebrate. When we let go of selfishness, greed and pride, we receive back selflessness, generosity and humility. In other words, when we let go of what this world tells us we need, we receive the character of Christ in return.
Our sufferings pale in comparison to what is experienced elsewhere in this world. Every day unspeakable acts of torture are manifested upon believers of Jesus. These are our brothers and sisters that accept this for the love of Jesus. They endure these atrocities while we sit comfortably on our couches in our air conditioned homes. Most of us will never have any idea what it means to truly suffer. We cannot ignore those in chains, those who are being tortured, sold into slavery and killed. This is not someone else’s problem to confront. This is a battle for the saints of Jesus Christ. We all have a responsibility to become aware of what is happening to Christians around the world, and to innocent people of all faiths and nations. Seek out stories each day and pray for those in need. Feed the poor, care for the orphans and widows, and seek justice for those who are persecuted. Think not of what this will cost you, but rather what you will gain. The person you will become as you live out these God-given commands will be worth far more than anything you might lose. Don’t turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what is happening in the world today. Become aware of the needs of our world and work to bring to fruition the Kingdom of justice and love.