Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know"1 (Lyrics)
Hebrews 13:3 – Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)
The first time I saw the mother grizzly and her three cubs, I remember thinking what a privilege it was to see such a wonder of nature. The next time I heard about them, I had very different thoughts. This time, they were not out in the bush, miles from town; they were only a few hundred yards from my house. The mama bear had brought them to town, and then within a short time, had kicked them out. Once the cubs are two years old, it is time for them to get out on their own. So, we had three young grizzlies wandering up and down the roadway, which included standing in front of our home one evening, with our livestock only a fence away.
Due to the extreme danger of three young grizzlies so close by, it meant keeping the driveway gates closed and chained as well as having to stay home. My walks to town with my granddaughter in her stroller and our forays through the bush trails with the dogs all had to be curtailed. Even our outside time on the property meant keeping a close and constant watch until this unwelcome and fearsome trio decided to move along, for a fence and gates are mere nuisances for a grizzly.
During these several weeks of boring and somewhat fearful confinement, the Lord brought to my mind those who are suffering from the bear of persecution for their faith. How difficult it must be to be confined to jail or under house arrest and ill-treated, especially for doing good to others by spreading the Word of God and the love of Christ. How frightening it must be for those who must worship in underground churches and keep their faith a secret for fear of persecution and even death if they were to be discovered. Suddenly, having to be confined to my own home and property due to a bear scare was pretty insignificant when compared to what some of God's children are called to bear.
So today, may we choose to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted or spending time in prison, as if we were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if we ourselves were suffering, that our prayers may be used by our heavenly Father to continue to strengthen and encourage them in their faith and the everlasting hope which is ours in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Father God, strengthen and encourage Your people who are suffering from the bear of persecution for their faith and hope in Christ Jesus. May the light of Christ shine brightly in their lives amidst the horrors and pain that they are being called to bear. May their suffering not be in vain for the kingdom of heaven. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.