[guest post by Dana]
It’s Christmas Eve, and around here presents are still waiting to be wrapped, the turkey may or may not be adequately thawed, and my efforts to cheat and not make homemade cookies this year was an unmitigated disaster. Note to self: when pre-packaged cookie dough says reindeer “stamped”, consider that a red flag. A picture is not worth a thousand yums, and if it looks like cardboard, it will probably taste like cardboard…
Anyway, I read President Obama’s statement concerning the persecution of Christians throughout the world. On the surface, I wholeheartedly agree with him. But because it’s Christmas Eve, I will graciously refrain from noting a bit of breathtaking irony with his concerns, and will also refrain from looking beneath the surface to point out the sad, but obvious... Suffice it to say, until he looks in his own backyard and backs up his words with corrective action, I am choosing to instead focus on the agreed upon need to pray for Christians who face torture and death because of their faith.
In spite of knowing the risk, these believers who have the immense faith of a mustard seed, refuse to buckle under, refuse to convert, and refuse to deny Him. I don’t know that kind of courage, faith, and resolve. And although I’ve never been tested that way, I don’t need to be in order to know that I would deny belonging to Christ in a hot second if it meant escaping torture and saving my life. Oh, ye of little faith, indeed. Yet, as with most believers, it’s not death that troubles me, it’s the ‘getting there’ – especially if it’s in a land where rampant evil makes itself known at the hands of depraved madmen living in abject darkness, save for the Godly remnant. No one’s life in Christ comes with guaranteed comfort and safety, at least not in this world. But what it does come with is something far deeper, transforming, and lasting than anything mortal man can create: a peace that surpasses all understanding and an eternal life in the presence of God, thus forever absent of evil.
Pastor Su Tianfu of China, where Christians are routinely persecuted and thrive in spite of it, has experienced both mortal fear and divine strength in the face of persecution as have many other saints. So when he claims that faith and love of God cannot be chained, I believe him.
This Christmas I want to stay mindful of the relative ease with which I am able to live out my faith. It’s a luxury not to be taken for granted. And yet no matter where we are and what circumstances we face, the believer everywhere can be assured that God’s promise will forever be a constant: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God bless those throughout the world who are courageous enough to claim Christ in the face of terror, and are wholly surrendered to His will, no matter what it may be.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are two dogs here excitedly awaiting their uh, freshly baked “reindeer” doggy treats…