Today He reminded me. And, I am so glad.
I forget that my brothers and sisters around the world are suffering. Deep and dark suffering every day.
As I prayed today, I wondered what Asia Bibi might be like... What might we talk about, without a language barrier, if she sat in my living room, curled up on my comfy couch, drinking my hot coffee? Would she tell me charming stories about her friends and family? Would her eyes sparkle as she spoke of her conversion and faith? When she laughed, like me, might she unconsciously raise her hand to cover her mouth? Would she cry or would she show anger?
If she, like Job before her, entered into lament and worship through pain, what might I do? How would I respond? Would I let her rant, rave, and question Our Father? Or would I accuse her of sin like Job's friends? Would I question her faith and tell her about God? Could I be silent long enough. Could I sit one more day in quiet and lament with her?
What might she be feeling as she flees and hides for her life? I can't imagine. No, I suppose that isn't true. I can imagine. I can guess, at least. Is she full of fear, or anxiety? Is she worrying about the future and her family? Is she hearing every noise at night and not able to sleep soundly? Is she regretful? Does she doubt or question?
My Father reminded me today that Asia Bibi, and the thousands of others suffering persecution for their faith, are real people. Very real people. And, more than just human, they are my sisters. These are my brothers. These names, faces and stories are my family.
When I enter in and allow myself to care for these sweet ones, these faces, I can begin to feel overwhelmed. But, today I was reminded that entering and feeling with them is a part of my intercession. My opening up and allowing their stories to touch my heart IS a part I play in joining them in suffering. This "joining with" or "entering in" alone is of value. I can actually be "present" with them in their sufferings... through prayer.
Paul tells us in Hebrews to "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." As if I were with them... as if I was fleeing for my life... ...as if I were hungry and afraid... remember.
So, I remember them today and I imagine what they might be feeling and then I pray.
When I enter in, I can feel guilty or wrong sitting in my comfy chair, drinking my hot coffee. But, I know that I can't begrudge God's sovereign choice to fill my cupboards with food and give me safety and prosperity. It is His prerogative and His right to choose this for me. I need to be content with blessing AND in need.
I need to be ready for both. I need to honor Him in both. I need to receive both blessing and hardship from His knowing, loving hand.
In fact, I can take this blessing, this space and margin I have in life, to bless others. I can pray.
I can only guess that Asia Bibi is wondering where they will sleep tonight and how she is to feed her family. I can guess that her ability and capacity to pray much for others is less than mine. I have space. I have margin. I have capacity. And, so, I take this blessing and use it to bless her. I want to join her, really join her, as I pray.
Thank you for reminding me Holy Spirit. Keep reminding me, I ask.
"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains." Col. 4:3"I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should." Eph 6:20