A few days ago as I was reading through Job I came to the well known verse.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” JOB 13:15
I thought of how truly beautiful Job’s resolve is to maintain his integrity in his trust in God. When I try to imagine what Job has and is going through as he forms this sentence I am at a loss. I have never experienced even a fraction of his pain. His physical and mental torment are beyond the comprehension of most.
I had literally just put my Bible down and came downstairs into our kitchen when I heard my husband talking to a guy in our church. He was voicing words of encouragement to a brother who had just shared an all too familiar story with him. Our brother had once again been fired from his job for his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoiced with him as he spoke with excitement of how his faith was strengthened through the ordeal.
A few minutes later another brother called, this one sharing with my husband about how the police had just left his mom’s house. The police were questioning his involvement in churches in the country, his work with an American foreigner, as well as internet programs preaching openly here. As he realized that he was now wanted by the police he spoke words of faith as he shared the news.
I walked out of the kitchen feeling a little strange. I was taken back by so much “ bad news”. So many people going through hard things for Christ. Their pain can not be compared to that of Job’s, yet their faith in hard times is remarkable.
This morning there was more pressure for believers in our church and our family as information was passed around through the church members about a grainy picture of three guys from our church that was posted on hate site designed to intimidate Christians and spread lies about them. The picture was most likely taken from an old Whats App profile picture and posted with a paragraph of hateful lewd, comments about the believers and a line about my husband.
Tonight at our Bible study a new believer asked tough questions about what he should do about Ramadan coming in a few days. His father is angry at him for not praying with the men in the family so he moved his stuff from his bedroom to the living room. His father said he is surely hiding something and that he can not be trusted. His father went on to throw a djalaba (traditional robe worn to show religious piety) at him and tell him he will wear it everyday in Ramadan and pray in the mosque with the men or he will find a new place to live. His father said he will not eat, drink, or sleep in the house if he will not pray 5 times a day with the men they work with. This new believer comes from a wealthy family and the idea of being on the street with nothing and working a hard labor job to survive while being disowned from family were heavy thoughts weighing on him as he shared with some of us and asked questions how to face the days ahead.
Am I just reporting bad news? Am I just trying to stir up emotion in complacent believers in less hostile environments?
The book of Job reports a lot of bad news. God seems to want to share in detail the suffering of the righteous. Job trusted in God for his justification and salvation. Similarly, Paul lists his persecution for the church. It is important to God that we as brothers and sisters know of the pains in the body of Christ. Job and Paul are examples of gaining strength by watching someone else suffering things that we will never expect to go through. Today our faith can still be strengthened to watch others joyfully and victoriously pass through the fire.