Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Near To The Heart Of God"1 (Lyrics)
On Easter Sunday, my wife, our pianist, and I had planned for quite some time to go to the local Long Term Care Centre. A good number of residents always enjoy coming to the worship services, especially on Christian holy days.
While we were having our breakfast, we heard that there had been a coordinated bombing of three Christian churches in Sri Lanka, and that at first report, over one hundred people were killed and more than two hundred injured.
Greta went to the nursing home early to bring the residents from their rooms to the activity room where the services are held. Many of the residents were anxious to be able to celebrate the events of the day when Jesus rose from the grave. I went somewhat later and with a heavy heart, and shortly after 10:00, we started the service. We sang some Easter hymns, we had some prayers, and we enjoyed the truth of the gospel. We had a good time of worship together. During the service, I was able to put the disturbing events aside. At the end of the service we sang:
- I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.
– Alfred Ackley
I imagine that the Christians in Colombo, Sri Lanka, went to church on Easter Sunday with joy in their hearts. For them, too, it was a great time to celebrate the risen Lord. I can imagine that they greeted each other with those familiar words, "The Lord is risen", and then the reply, "The Lord is risen indeed." I don't know at what point in the service the suicide bombers detonated their devices, but perhaps they had already had some prayers and had sung some Easter hymns, and suddenly there was death and destruction all around them.
Since then, we have heard that there were six separate attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, with 359 people killed and over 500 injured. We weep for all those who are affected, and it is so difficult, even impossible, to comprehend what motivates people to do this to other people. Why are Christians hated so much, to the point that our brothers and sisters in Christ are brutally murdered for their faith in Jesus, the risen Lord?
Jesus warned us that this would happen. It's not about us — it's all about Him!
John 15:18 – If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. (NKJV)
Luke 21:17 – And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. (NKJV)
John 17:14 – I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (NKJV)
The important thing is that Jesus loved us so much that He has given His life to forgive our sin. We owe Him our eternal life! Love so amazing demands our unswerving loyalty, even to the point of death!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, it is with heavy hearts that we pray that You would bless all those who have lost loved ones. May they experience the peace of Christ in their hearts. Prepare all of us to be hated by the world because we love You, who first loved us. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.