In recent weeks the social media have been full of reports of the horrific brutalities committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Beheadings, crucifixions, rapes, genital mutilation – these are only some of the atrocities committed by ISIS against those they consider infidels, including many Christian believers. The capital of Kurdistan in Iraq is now full of refugees and surrounded by bloodthirsty jihadist armies. The only thing holding the jihadis at bay is the threat of American airstrikes should they proceed to march on the Kurdish capital.
As one who is called to intercede for God’s people, I have found that I can only take these reports in limited doses. I do need to be aware of the strategies and schemes of the evil one, but if I allow my attention to be riveted by the works of darkness, my soul can easily fall into the grip of lethargy and my prayers become negative and faithless – if I pray them at all.
This is not the lethargy of one who does not care. It is the lethargy of one who cares, but feels small and hopeless in the face of the seemingly overwhelming power of evil. Perhaps you are familiar with these sorts of thoughts and feelings.
Today I rediscovered God’s antidote for this sort of lethargy. While going through my mail pile I came across a number of missionary newsletters containing testimonies of the hardships, sufferings and needs faced by Christian workers in Cuba, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Iran and elsewhere. But these newsletters were not full of despair. On the contrary they were full of hope. To borrow a phrase from one of the newsletters, despite these difficulties, there are many good news stories to celebrate.
There are always good news stories to celebrate. Even in Syria and Iraq, as Christians are being slaughtered, others are turning to Jesus as Muslims search for a better answer. As darkness seems to be increasing all over the earth, we need to remind ourselves that the Spirit of God is also at work all over the earth, revealing the glory of Jesus in increasing measure to hungry, seeking hearts. John the apostle reminds us that in the hour of Satan’s rage, when he makes furious war on the people of God because he knows his time is short, God’s people overcome the enemy by a powerful but simple three-part recipe – the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and the willingness to die for their faith if need be, knowing that the Lamb has already conquered death on their behalf.
The title of this post is taken from a great new worship song by Amanda Cook of Bethel Music. I love this song because it calls my attention to the power and goodness of God, and causes faith and courage to rise up in my heart.
I don’t want to escape the hard realities of life. I want to face them with hope, in the knowledge that the Lamb of God is victorious. So I turn to the Lord to receive anew the assurance of His great love and His keeping power. In that strong confidence, I find that I am empowered once again to pray prayers full of renewed faith and courage for those who are facing an uncertain future in this life, but who have placed their hope in the risen One and his coming Kingdom.