“Anything you say right now is going to offend someone.”
That’s basically what has been going through my mind this week. On the President’s actions on immigration policy and the media’s coverage of events, I have plenty of opinions.
After all, I encouraged my husband to walk away from a career at a law firm to open his own immigration law practice. We know first-hand that the complex snarl of immigration policies is costly, not just in dollars and cents, but in precious years of people’s lives and heartbreaking circumstances that the current system ignores.
No Illusions about Islam
Also, for the past seven years, I’ve worked with Smyrna Ministries to raise prayer and care for Christians who face persecution in places where Islam is dominant. I’ve corresponded with pastors and evangelists in areas where identifying with Jesus means death-threats and violence in the name of Allah and his messenger. I’ve fundraised for sisters in Christ whose husbands were martyred by Boko Haram. And I’ve prayed and prayed for my Savior’s people in Syria and Iraq who are under relentless oppression from Islamic State jihadists.
There have been far, far more heartbreaking stories than I can keep track of, and more pain than I can comprehend.
I have no illusions left that Islam is an alternative “pathway to God.” I have no warm-fuzzy feelings for a false religion that shuts people off from the Gospel – men and women made in the image of God – and then demands their death if they dig into the historical record or dare to question the prophet’s legitimacy.
Opinions? Oh yes, I do have opinions about current events and controversies.
But right now, do we really need another opinion?
I’m a stay-at-home mom with three kids that spends more time trying to potty-train a two-year-old than anything else. I’m not exactly a policy expert or an influential media personality.
And I’m tired.
When Darkness Presses In
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that when the news cycle gets emotionally overwhelming and the debates get heated, that is when I need to turn from man-focused solutions and man-centered stories to the Word of God. That’s when I need to follow Jesus out to a “lonely place to pray.”
When I pray, I’m reminded that the real hope is only found in the God who raises the dead. Real healing only comes from the Creator who is able to re-create His likeness in us (Romans 8:29).
Just as our real enemies are not the flesh-and-blood radical jihadists, but rather the spiritual authorities and the “rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph 6:12), our real salvation and refuge is in God alone. He is our refuge from the deadly spiritual forces of darkness that are currently delighting in the terror of ISIS and the chaos in our world. He is able to break the chains of Islam, the chains of consumerism and comfort, the chains of God-dishonoring political ideology, and the chains of sin that we all need deliverance from.
And those are not my opinions. Those are facts.
A Prayer for the Displaced
Here’s a prayer I wrote down (while my children were sleeping). I hope you find it edifying and not divisive:
My Father, You are sovereign above the nations, creator and sustainer of everything that has the breath of life, and I come to worship You. Your ways are not my ways; Your plans no-one can thwart or delay.
God, thank you for being the King of justice. You see the evil of ISIS and You are not helpless. You see the spiritual nature of Islam, and you are not discouraged.
You see the efforts of man to rule himself without You and yet You are merciful. You see the battle taking place in the spiritual realm and You are not dismayed.
The demonic forces arrayed against Your kingdom have a certain destiny; their defeat is seen by the triumph of Jesus; He put them to open shame at Calvary.
Their power is not unchecked – their evil is not overlooked.
God, thank You for Your promise that Your justice will roll like a river, and You will execute vengeance on all the enemies of the Prince of Peace.
Yet even as a perfect Judge, I am amazed that You are also perfectly merciful.
You care about the fragile and the weary, the poor and the weak, the displaced and those burdened down with grief.
Your face is not turned away from the mothers with empty arms, or the fathers whose sons and daughters are no more.
You do not despise the foreigner or the alien.
There is room in Your Kingdom for people from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. The comfort You offer is in Christ, the mercy You offer is in Christ, and the healing You offer freely is in Christ. I praise You for Jesus, the Word-made-flesh, God-with-skin, who is the exact imprint of Your nature. I thank you for how He shows us that Your priorities are not the world’s priorities.
God, today I pray for the refugees from war-torn nations who are suffering. I pray for refugees from corrupt or crumbling nations who are suffering. Their hearts are heavy. Their hopes have been stripped away.
I pray for their physical circumstances. I pray for food, clothes, and shelter – for what they need for human flourishing as You have designed it. You know their needs, and I pray for You open doors to provide those things. Yet God, I also know that only You can heal broken hearts. Only You can provide the Bread of Life. I plead for their spiritual rebirth. I plead for their deliverance from false hopes and false saviors. Open doors for the true Gospel. Give your people a passion to proclaim your word. Lord, I ask you to send out your Word so that it can redeem what seems unredeemable.
Your Spirit is able to comfort those whose affliction surpasses comprehension with peace that surpasses understanding.
God, for my church, and my family, I pray that You would:
Give us the courage to proclaim Christ to our culture.
Give us the courage to proclaim Christ in our work places.
Give us the courage to proclaim Christ to our friends and acquaintances.
Give us the courage to proclaim Christ in our extended families and communities.
And give us the courage to proclaim Christ to Muslims.
Give us the courage to engage.
Give us wisdom as we pray for our leaders.
Make us conduits of grace, not of controversy.
Ministers of your Word, not our preferences.
Ambassadors of a heavenly city, not a political or social empire.
Give us wisdom to live as citizens of Your Kingdom and also citizens of the nations where you have planted us.
Help us to love our neighbors who are close to us, and also to have compassion on those we have not even met.
Please humble our pride – in our online discussions and in our secret thoughts.
Please protect our nation – from both acts of terrorism and attitudes of indifference.
Please show us where we are expecting the government to be the Church and where we, as the Church, are confusing Gospel-focus with comfort-focus.
God, this turmoil is not unexpected to You.
I believe You are sovereign over the affairs of men, including our own government, and You do desire our leaders to use their authority to protect us.
I believe you have called the Church, the Body of Christ, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the widow and the orphan, and most of all, to carry out the ministry of Jesus to call people to repent and believe the Gospel.
Father, You are more loving and more compassionate than I can even comprehend. I entrust the circumstances of the refugees to You, and I ask You to guide me as I seek to show Your love to them. I pray for Your wisdom to fill me as I respond to the circumstances and political climate around me.
In Jesus Name I pray,
“Look to the LORD and His strength; Seek His face always.” – Psalm 105
– Cate 1.31.2017
Cate, a graduate of Patrick Henry College, serves as Smyrna’s Senior Research Editor. As a wife and mom of three crazy kids, she knows the challenge of making time to pray for the Persecuted and testifies that His grace is sufficient!
Smyrna Insight is an e-commentary on current events involving Islamic persecution, Christian ministry in the Islamic context, and other topics dealing with the Persecuted Church suffering at the hand of Islam. Smyrna does not necessarily endorse all of the views and opinions in the news stories we share.