I pray daily for our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. It is both devastating and humbling to read what they are going through because of their commitment to Jesus. In many countries, becoming a follower of Christ will lead to job loss, inability to rent or buy housing, harassment and beatings from friends and family, and often imprisonment or death. For many believers, this is the harsh reality of their lives.
Some stories are unimaginable to those of us who sit safely ensconced in our comfortable homes, living in a freedom unmatched in history. The bravery and courage of our persecuted brothers and sisters should compel us all to lift their needs in prayer often. Those who are out of sight must never be out of mind.
When I finish praying for the persecuted and think of the day ahead, I am ashamed. I don’t feel guilty about being able to worship in freedom or that I live in abundance while many of them lack food and shelter. None of us control where we are born. No, I’m ashamed because of the things I complain about daily. I am ashamed because I recognize how petty my so-called big problems are.
I have a couple of shelves full of Bibles, many versions, and containing various study helps. So many in the world don’t even have access to a few scraps of Scripture. That is tragic. What is even more tragic is some of those believers experience Christ in a deeper way than those of us with our bookshelves full of Bibles and books on Christian living. We have all this knowledge and we do nothing with it. We feel spiritual because we study God’s Word. The persecuted are spiritual because they live it. How can we who are so “enlightened” be so blind?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our persecuted brothers and sisters have been denied medical care. In one country, they forced Christian nurses to treat coronavirus patients with no protective gear. Meanwhile, the non-Christian nurses had proper protection and only served those with lesser medical problems. When someone from another faith becomes a believer in one of these countries, their families often beat them, throw them out of the house, or have them arrested by the authorities. I think it’s safe to say most who are reading this blog do not have to deal with these kinds of challenges in their lives.
And still we complain. Still, we feel wronged when someone says a harsh word or disagrees with us. Our petty problems are nothing compared to the suffering of our persecuted family abroad. We are the Church and we must stand together. As the Church, we must recognize our petty annoyances are tools the devil uses to distract us and cause us to lose focus on the mission of Christ. Let’s recognize our problems for what they are and understand our time would be better spent in prayer for those who are dealing with actual problems. I’m not saying every problem we have is trivial. But for those that are, use them as a reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters who face unspeakable persecution every day of their lives.