Sometimes we are called to weep

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Rom 12:15

Years ago, I became aware of a conversation between two Christians regarding the sufferings of many individuals caught in the horrors of human trafficking.  One of them was relating some of the things people suffered at the hands of evil traffickers.  After a short time, the other raised her hands and declared, “I do not want to hear anymore, it is taking away my joy.”  She then walked off and became involved in another conversation more to her liking.  When I heard this, I became angry.  How could someone be so calloused regarding the sufferings of others.  I could understand if she did not want to discuss it at that time, but to show no empathy for these modern day slaves who suffer daily, and never wanting to think about it at all, shows a heartless selfishness that is beyond appalling.

Today, we are seeing an incredible uptick in the persecution of Christians around the world.  With the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) we are seeing Christians captured, tortured, burned alive, crucified and beheaded.  Woman and children are sold as commodities for forced labor and sex slavery.  Children are crying as they are taken forcibly away from their parents, who are left standing there knowing they will probably never see them again.  Husbands and wives in anguish as their mates are killed before their eyes.  Many Christians are given a choice when their cities are captured by ISIS, either pay an exorbitant tax, known as jizya, flee the town leaving everything you own, or die.  This tax is paid once a year with the requirement that they sign a contract which forces them to follow certain restrictions, among which are that Christians cannot own guns, build places of worship, have any outward showing of Christian symbols in public such as crosses, etc.  Some, though, are killed without the choice.  And these are just in Muslim dominated areas.  In India, Buddhists  are becoming more militant against Christians, forcing them to convert or be thrown out of their homes and villages.   And there are many other examples, but I believe this is sufficient.

The anguish of these Christians are great.  The number of tears shed by these brothers and sisters are incalculable.  Yet, many Christians here in America who do not experience anything like this suffering turn a blind eye and a deaf ear toward those enduring such persecution.  Jesus said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.“  John 13:34-35   God has commanded us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Does this only mean those who are close by, go to your church or make you feel good about yourself?  No!  We are to love all the Brethren.  Those in our circle of friends, and those around the world.  We are to go out and show our love in sacrificial ways.  To put the top verse in context:  “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.“  Rom 12:10-18

When we hear about these atrocities, how can we not feel compassion?  Too many in the church are more concerned with the Kardashians than about the persecuted church.  What a shame.  Mothers are seeing their children being slaughtered before their eyes, and we cannot take a little time away from our own entertainment.  I read/listen to some of these stories and I begin to tear up.    It seems like we strive to find people to rejoice with, but avoid and flee from those who weep.  In these days, just as in the first century, we are called to weep for our brothers and sisters.  We are called to care enough to pray and anguish over them.  If we can give, then we should give.  If we can in some way help, we should help.  If we can pray, then we should pray.  We would desire that from them, so, why can we not do the same for them.

There are many Christians in this world who are suffering because of their devotion to Christ.  Islam itself has vowed that Christianity will be eradicated wherever it is found.  The process to attain this goal is underway.  There are many cities in the middle east where all the Christians have either been killed or exiled.  We need to pray, and we need to pray fervently.  Love requires us to pray and do whatever else we can to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Do not forget them.  One day, we shall face the same persecution they now do.  We are seeing the first fruits in our country now.   And when it happens, we will cry out for help.  Will there be anyone out there who will weep for us?

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