From the very beginning, followers of Jesus have faced persecution. We saw this in the book of Acts as well as in the first two centuries of the church’s existence. This was also evident as we studied the Great Persecution. Today, persecution continues to be reality for believers the world over. According to Open Door USA, “last year was the most violent for Christians in modern history.”
We read the headlines and the news reports. We see the images and hear the statistics and stories. But how do we meaningfully respond to the suffering many face in the name of Jesus?
Scripture points us to a response called lament. The psalmists put voice to the pain. That’s what lament is according to artists Steve Huyser-Honig and Joan Huyser-Honig. In the title of their article on lament in worship, they identify lament as “bringing our pain to God.” In Scripture, in what we call the psalms of lament, the psalmists bring their grief, their complaints of injustice, their weeping to the Lord. Consider these words from the psalmist:
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13:1–2 NIV)
Read through a couple of other Psalms of lament, like Psalm 17 and Psalm 74.
How do these psalms instruct us in how to pray for those suffering persecution?
We can lament on behalf of brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are facing persecution. This means we don’t shy away from the pain or turn a deaf ear to the cries of injustice that engulf our globe. But rather, through lament and prayer, we put voice to the pain, and in honesty we cry out to the Lord.
One of the incredible benefits of studying church history is that we are able to see the faithfulness of God playing out in real lives, real circumstances, and, yes, in the midst of very real hardship. When the story of the church looked bleak, when the days were dark with persecution, even then the Lord was present for His people. Even then the Lord was powerfully at work for redemption and, amazingly, used persecution to further his purposes of drawing people to Himself. This means we can look back and remember God’s faithfulness, and we can look to our own day with a renewed sense of trust and hope.
We are reminded of God’s ability to work for redemption in the midst of persecution. Incredibly, “Jesus’s message of love and reconciliation thrives in a climate where hostility, danger, and martyrdom are present.”
With a spirit of hope and trust, let us continue to pray for the church, for the flourishing of the gospel, especially in places where the church is deeply threatened by persecution. Come, Lord Jesus.
Today, spend some time praying for the church, for the persecution she faces. Let us pray that God will continue to redeem persecution to further His church, as He has faithfully done in the past.
Want to hear more of today’s conversation? https://vimeo.com/189388459/6a87bf19b2