My throat closes tightly and small breaths escape in quick rapid beats as I consider persecution around the world. Evil seems to be winning… but then I remember that Good has already won.
The more strongly I want to clench my grip on life, the more loudly God tells me to loosen it and to trust Him. His spirit whispers to my soul, calmness and peace, even though the Jericho walls of security seem to be crumbling before my eyes. I think about my children and then of their children, and my heart rises in my chest and with every pump I can hear it louder, louder, louder within the hallway of my ears, but still, His spirit strokes my soul telling me to trust unwaveringly.
Today we talked about James 1:2. A verse Ive hidden in my heart for many years.
But when James told the church to “consider it pure joy, when we face trials of many kinds” he was speaking to the friends and widows of martyrs, and the orphans of the slain, and the mother of the slaughtered. During the reign of Nero, James wrote his letter to the bride. This was a time when the bodies of the martyred with dipped in oil and lit on fire in order to light the emperors garden at night, but yet, here the voice of Jesus’s newly converted brother is publicly claiming to live out faith, and consider it joy when this is their reality.
Often I wonder why I was born in 1982AD, and not 54AD… and then I read things like this and think I could not bare it, not for one minute. But, as I grow older, and a teensy bit more wise, I realize nothing is new under the sun. The only thing that is dependable is the passing of time.
Then my mind meanders back to the Middle East crisis; and the guns, and the black masks and the war tanks. My heart thumps and my throat tightens and swiftly the Holy Spirit calms my soul, reassuring me that He alone is good, and my calling remains the same. Abandoning selfish desire to turn to fear, I must cling tight to love, and serve my neighbor, and care for the widow and orphan, and welcome the stranger.
James tells the struggling church a few verses after, vs 27, that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”.
I refuse to let the intimidation overwhelm, and I stand tall while I continue to love my neighbor.
We are called to more than fear, we are called to love, and love alone