Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Lead Me To Calvary"1 (Lyrics)
"Egypt Declares State of Emergency, as Attacks Undercut Promise of Security" – New York Times, April 9, 2017
As you may have gathered from some of my writings, I spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East. Later I travelled to a number of different Arabic countries in North Africa and the Middle East. During the time when I lived in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, and later when I made trips to other countries in that area, almost always, time permitting, I would stroll down to the local market or to other areas where people gathered. There, I would observe their happiness. They were always standing around in groups, talking and laughing. There would be groups of women shopping for their daily vegetables and meats. The men would stroll through the markets, and a good time would be had by all. I could tell that they were happy to socialize.
When I first heard about the massacre of 45 Coptic Christians and the injuries of many more in two different cities in Egypt this past Palm Sunday, I could see the crowds in my mind. People would be happy to gather together, especially as they all came to remember and meditate on the story of Jesus when He rode a colt, the foal of a donkey, into Jerusalem. I can imagine the joy that they had as they prepared for worship and as they worshipped. Suddenly, there were these terrible explosions, and many died. I am sure that we can't even imagine the disbelief and the agony of that moment and the distress afterwards.
For a number of days, there were reports in the newspaper and on television, and then gradually, these events became old news. But for those who were there, for those who lost loved ones, this nightmare will continue for the rest of their lives. Whenever they think of the joy of worshipping the Lord, they will remember the agony of the moment when the explosions took place and loved ones were lost.
It seems that these days, we are confronted almost weekly with the fact that Christians have become targets of those who want to wipe out the Christian church and those who believe in Christ as Saviour and Lord. The Bible tells us that there would be days like this.
John 15:20a – Remember what I told you: "A servant is not greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (NIV 2011)
Matthew 24:9 – Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. (NIV 2011)
For Christians in many places, there is a state of emergency indeed. In the western world, we also need to be prepared for persecution, even in its mild forms of prejudice and bias against Christianity in the secular media.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray for the many brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith. We ask that You will give them strength to cope; we also pray that change for the better will come. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.