I have friends in other nations.
I have friends in Israel who are constantly re-adjusting every moment of their lives because they have to stop and run to a bomb shelter.
I have friends in Ukraine who live right along the Crimea border, friends who are frustrated and frightened about the slow absorption of their nation into the hands of another.
I have friends in Russia who are having difficulty sorting out the news they hear in Russia and the news which comes from other parts of the world. They just want to trust truth, but it’s increasingly more difficult to see.
I have friends in Gaza who love the Lord and wish for peace. Everyone wants peace.
I have friends in Pakistan who are fearful of a military coup (or worse) brought on by yet another failed leader.
I have friends around the world who are, each day, finding themselves entrenched in battles ranging from war to disease that they do not understand and never induced. And I lay my head on my pillow each night, and worry if I’m going to wake in time to get my daily tasks complete. I get angry at things which don’t even matter and concern myself with vain pursuits. It’s all so benign in light of these worldly events. By contrast to most nations of the world, life in the U.S. is protected and sterile. While I appreciate all it takes to keep us protected, I also know that those attributes threaten to foster a sense of apathy to the world’s condition. But somehow, it hits home when we have friends in other nations who suffer. It’s one thing to hear the news, but an entirely different thing to consider how friends and people are coping.
I remember when we had a huge ice storm a few years back. It was around 4am when I woke to the power outage. Everything was eerily dark, and all you could hear was the sound of ice falling on ice. It finally became so intense that enormous tree limbs began falling on the large hillside and rolling down to the street, echoing like gunshots through our little valley. I laid there in bed and began to realize the severity of our condition. “Oh God,” I prayed. “Does anyone know?” I began to feel very small and very vulnerable. I began to realize how large and big this storm could be and how we could easily be a victim of its icy grip, not even a name in a paper but a number counted among the fellow victims. And numbers don’t reveal anything about the people who suffer. That is how people in other nations feel when they are in the middle of battles not their own. This was the resounding, final sentence in my morning prayer:
“And if they know, God, are they praying?”
You read the news, hear the news, consider the news. You know what goes on. It’s not given to us for the purpose of sensationalism or judgment, it’s not even given to us to ignore. We have a responsibility in this: We have the news so that we can pray. Yes, we can put our heads in the sand and pretend these things do not exist, but that doesn’t make them any less real to the people who battle or to those who lose their lives or loved ones in the battle.
Pray. Pray for those who feel lonely, vulnerable, weak and exposed. Pray that they might have strength of faith and steadfast trust. Pray that they have assurance of Christ. And if they don’t, pray that they might consider their eternal home and receive Christ so that there is peace in all circumstances. Truly, that is the only kind of peace we can hope to attain on this side of Heaven. Pray that they would not react in anger toward their enemies or to God. Pray that they would seek to understand and exercise penetrating forgiveness. Pray for the world through the headlines. Prayers are a way of dealing with the supernatural evil that encourages these worldly battles; they are your contribution to a situation you cannot control. Most of all, they matter. So when you read those difficult headlines, don’t turn the page. Instead, bow your head and pray.
Please reply with the name of the country or people you’ve been praying for. What battles are they fighting? What personal difficulties are people enduring? Do they know Christ? Because the work of prayer is important to prepare the way for the gospel, how can we pray along with you?