It’s cold outside. Though the sun is shining, the air is filled with winter’s chill. But I sit inside with my coffee in hand. I am safe. I am comfortable. I hear the heater click on; a rush of warm air fills the room. I am not worried about having enough food to eat. I am not worried about whether my children will freeze to death in the night. I am not worried about being hunted down for my faith in Jesus. My heart does not ache with fear and sadness from being forced out of my home by men who think they glorify God by spilling my blood.
But that’s not true for millions of people. While I sit here warm and well fed, a brutal winter assaults the Middle East, increasing the misery that is life for thousands of Syrian refugees. Loved ones ache as their children die by the sword and the flame, acts of horrendous evil committed in the name of religious conquest. In this very moment, women are being trafficked and enslaved. Children are being stolen. Christians are being slaughtered and villages terrorized. Our headlines are splattered with the blood of Ebola outbreaks, ISIS attacks, civil unrest and a thousand other things. The nations rage, including our own, and it feels like the world is on fire.
So as I sit here, I wonder: What happens when it’s our turn? What happens when affliction and persecution aren’t what we read about but what we live? Will we be ready? Will we stand firm in our faith? Will we trust God in His sovereignty? Will we cling to Jesus’ sufficiency? And as I see the suffering of so many, how do I reconcile the reality of my life with theirs? How do I move past feeling guilty, powerless and paralyzed to do something helpful?
These questions twist and turn inside me, leaving my heart tired and confused. I don’t have the answers, but I know who does. So I go to Him—in prayer and in His Word—and what I find anchors my perspective and steadies my heart:
God is good, and He is in charge.
The God of heaven sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. He is perfectly wise, completely sovereign and unwaveringly good. He sees the suffering and injustice that fills our headlines, the atrocities that never make it to the nightly news and He is with His people. He works justice for the oppressed and upholds the cause of the orphan and widow. He is compassionate and strong. I do not need to fear or doubt that He is moving—actively working all things together for His glory and the good of those who love Him.
Jesus is coming.
The day of His return is promised and appointed. And when Jesus comes, all sin will cease. Evil will end. The nations will heal, and all things will be made new. The dwelling place of God will be with man, and we will enjoy unending peace in His presence. This reality shapes the way I see, protecting me from despair and filling me with hope.
To those who have been given much, much is required.
The darkness and pain of these days is not hard to see. It is easy to get overwhelmed and look away. But we can’t do that. We don’t get to do that. As the people of God, we have been entrusted with the hope of the gospel. We have been established as a city on a hill—heralds of truth, doers of justice, vessels of healing, comfort and mercy. We will face suffering and persecution in this life, but we will not bow to apathy or fear. While we have life and breath, we must live in humble, joyful, unapologetic obedience to God, confident that He who called us will keep us until the end. None of us can single handedly end global suffering, but we can be informed and available. We can pray, give, love, serve and maybe even go.
The nations rage—it’s true. But right now, in this exact moment, God is providing for, protecting and saving many in answer to the prayers of His people. The gospel is being proclaimed. The hungry are being fed and the hurting comforted. Women and children are being rescued. The persecuted are crying out to a God of justice who has not—and will not—abandon them. There is every reason to hope in the middle heartache, and there is much to be done.