I was deeply moved and challenged the other day as I read the London Daily Telegraph’s account of the ultimatum that had been given by the new Islamic rulers in Northern Iraq. The message that went out to every Christian family was ‘convert to Islam, leave or be executed’. Their houses were daubed with the words ‘Property of the Islamic State’ and as the Christians fled the region their possessions, cars, phones, whatever they were carrying was confiscated from them. One Bishop was quoted as saying, “All we have left is our faith” as they walked into the unknown. For the first time in 1600 years there are now no believers left in the city of Mosul.
The Bishop’s words deeply challenged me. In their extreme situation these brave believers valued their faith above everything – nothing was worth more to them than their belief and trust in the living God. I looked around at everything that we considered home and couldn’t hold back the tears of empathetic suffering with our brothers and sisters in Iraq who had just lost everything, yes everything – except what mattered most to them.
They were living out in today’s world, the reality of what Paul had written about to the Romans two thousand years earlier. When Paul himself was facing death through persecution, he declared in his letter, and through the Scriptures to believers throughout the rest of time, that whatever happens, there is absolutely nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
As I prayed for those exhausted, but faith-filled believers, the Lord challenged me to ensure that the wonderful truth of today’s Scripture would always be engraved on my own heart. He challenged me never to depart from the reality of living with such a grip on God’s eternal truths, so that whatever happens I can rejoice in Paul’s wonderful words. It is only when the security of everything we have in this world is threatened that we can fully realise how much we love and depend on the Lord – for everything!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that everything we have in this world is nothing compared with the reality of knowing your love in Christ Jesus. Help me never to forget those who are suffering for their faith and to live for you in the sure knowledge that there is nothing that can ever separate me from your love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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