Monday, September 8, 2014

When the World Suffers

I've been sobered by the brutal persecution on the other side of the globe.  My first thought was of the martyrs in heaven crying out to be avenged of their blood.  Surely, a time is coming when our enemies will receive their just payment. (Rev. 6:9-11)

When we read in the Psalms where David cries out for his enemies to be destroyed we sometimes think it harsh, and wonder, is he right to pray that way?  But maybe we would not ask that question if we personally experienced these atrocities up close. (Psa.17:13-14)

Looking back at the very first murder, we see that Abel's blood cried out from the ground demanding justice. (Gen. 4:10) The Scriptures show that it is no small thing for innocent blood to be shed. (Prov. 6:16-17)  God takes notice.  Even the ground itself becomes witness of crimes committed and is tainted by them. (Psa. 106:38)  All of creation groans as it waits for justice and renewal. (Rom. 8:19-22)

And yet, except for the grace of God, I too am capable of the worst of crimes, because evil is embedded in my own heart.  It is kept at bay only by God's Holy Spirit who dwells within me. 

I'm amazed at how easily our lives shut out these unpleasantries.  Yesterday, as I wrote out my weekly calendar, I thought about all the things that concern me, such as volleyball games, music lessons, ministry meetings, parent/teacher conferences, and lesson preparation.  Not to mention friend outings, exercise, a food plan, and leisure.

But when the world suffers it places my life in perspective.  My difficulties seem small and frivolous.  Why does it matter if my kids win their volleyball game, or make the honor roll?  What does it matter how I decorate my house, that my clothes be stylish, or that my garden is weeded?  When the world suffers, it causes me to be more diligent about things of eternal significance.

The ease of our culture makes it hard to follow Christ.  Sometimes I wish for a little persecution, for a more difficult life, because I've learned that in those times my faith and prayers become more intense. Furthermore, communion with my Heavenly Father is deep and close.  But with ease and luxury comes a dangerous apathy.  It is so easy to be distracted and pulled into the wrong fights.

With the world in turmoil, one thing is certain.  Prayer has moved to a higher priority in my life.  In the secret place, I look to God who sees, who cares, and who is in control.  It is an easy thing for Him to destroy his enemies.  To Him, they are a mere drop in a bucket and the clouds are the dust of His feet.  (Nahum 1:3)

The world conflict places in my heart an urgent longing for our Righteous Judge to rule the earth.  My hope is not in man, but in the LORD who made heaven and earth.  I lift up my eyes, looking for His return. 

"...I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"  Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of the fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."  Rev. 6:9-11


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