Last Sunday, as we drove up to Broomfield after church to buy a couch, Lover spent a good long while listening to me as I bawled my eyes out about all the things that were breaking my heart. Number one on that list? The women and children affected by ISIS’ unbending regime. Our church encouraged people to wear orange to church in support of Christians being executed by ISIS, and we spent quite a while talking about the trials the Church is facing over there during our Sunday morning service.
This came on the heels of reading Ann Voskamp’s posts about her trip to Iraq recently, where she sat on the floor of shipping containers with women who had been widowed, then fled their homes with their children, trying to escape ISIS. They are powerful posts, and wonderfully written, but only read them if you are prepared for some heart wrenching images and thoughts. It will not easily leave your mind.
All of this left me just absolutely shattered. It didn’t shake my belief in God or anything, but it just truly broke my heart that for some reason these women and children have to suffer so much. How was it fair that I get to live in my beautiful, spacious home in Colorado, and sleep peacefully through the night? That I get to raise my children without any real concern that someone will harm them, or deliver my new baby in a clean, sterile hospital where it is an expectation that, not a question of if, my baby will live? When women over in Iraq are literally choosing which children they will flee with and which they will leave behind?
Like I said, it just reduced me to tears. I couldn’t fathom how you walk through that, how God can carry you through a trial like that. How can you live in such an environment of fear, destruction, of death? How do you see God in the midst of all of that?
Yesterday, during the praise and prayer part of our service, the worship leader talked about the heart wrenching pain that God experienced when He gave up His only begotten Son. I wrote a little bit about this before Easter, but from the perspective of the Son – forsaken by his Father. But I didn’t really spend any time thinking about it from the Father’s perspective.
And in that moment of reflection, I knew that God understands. That He knows what it is like to lose His very precious child, to make a choice that results in losing them. He sees those beautiful women, making impossible choices. He’s there when they have to choose which children they will leave behind, when their daughters are taken by ISIS, when their infants die hours or days after birth because of the conditions into which they are born. He knows their pain, because He’s suffered through it. And they can find comfort in knowing that He understands them, and that He’s holding them close. They are NOT forgotten or abandoned. He knows their names, the names of their children, He sees their pain. As Second Corinthinans 9 says, they are persecuted, but not forgotten, cast down but not destroyed.
And then we sang one of my favorite songs “In Christ Alone.” This song brings me to tears every time I sing it – the message is so powerful. In Christ alone, my hope is found…firm through the fiercest drought and storm…my Comforter, my all in all…
The last verse spoke to me in particular.
No guilt in life, no fear in death, (you, fellow Christians, executed for your faith)
this is the power of Christ in me,
from life’s first cry, to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny. (He sees them, he hasn’t lost control)
No power of hell, no scheme of man, (ISIS can scheme all they want, they won’t prevail in the end)
can ever pluck me from His hand. (He’s holding them, they won’t be lost)
Till He returns, or calls me home, (Whether they survive this trial or not)
here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
I can’t express how much comfort this brings me. The idea that Christians a world away can feel God’s presence walking through the valley of the shadow of death with them, holding them in His hands, hiding them in the shadow of His wings. And it helps me to know how to better pray for them – that God would show Himself so real to them as they walk through this fiery trial.
And I’ll thank God that He has not chosen me to walk through this trial, and I’ll be all the more grateful for the ways in which He has chosen to bless me.