by Floyd A. Brobbel
It was a cold winter’s day when my wife and I stood in a cemetery, hand-in-hand with our dear friends, sharing in their grief. Underneath the frozen ground lay the body of a little one who never had the chance to take a breath, feel the warm sun on a bright summer’s day, or see the look of love on her parents’ smiling faces.
I stood transfixed as I witnessed a mother cry. I appreciated the beauty of this moment: shared sorrow combined with the hope that life in Jesus offers.
On another occasion, I sat with parents who years earlier had lost their daughter and her boyfriend in a horrific car accident. I was there when they buried their daughter, and I grieved with them as we went through that day. Now, years after the accident, they share the struggles and pain that remain even though life goes on. It’s amazing how easily the tears can flow long after the event has passed.
I felt privileged to share these moments with both of these families knowing that one day, after every tear has been dried, there awaits a reunion of such proportions we cannot yet begin to fathom it.
Every year in November, Christians around the world take time to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters. We have come to know this day as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). It happened yesterday, on Nov.9.
It is a time to remember that there are family members who daily know what it means to count the cost of following Jesus. It is a time where we intercede for them as well as their persecutors; where we as Christian family seek to live out what it means to mourn with those who mourn. Yet every IDOP, I am struck by two somber thoughts: 1) how little prayer actually happens on IDOP Sunday, and 2) how little I can truly identify with those for whom I am praying.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 says that it is better to go to a house of mourning, than to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man and the living should take this to heart.
Right now, at this very moment, Christian brothers and sisters hurt and grieve. We can find them in our churches, neighbourhoods, cities, all over our country and around the world.
May our goal be to truly seek to understand what it means to remember as if we are bound with them, striving together in this remembrance of our precious brothers and sisters daily.
Let us also be encouraged: for it is in the house of the mourning where deeper healing and the greatest of joys can be fully experienced.
Floyd Brobble is vice-president of International Ministry and Operations for The Voice of the Martyrs Canada. The most recent Faith Today features a “By the Numbers” info graphic on the Persecution of Christians around the world.