Take Your Stand
So much has been reported through the media recently besides the ‘wars and rumours of wars’, including the missing Flight MH 370 (which is yet to be found), the abduction of the 200+ girls in North East Nigeria, the overturned South Korean ferry, with the loss of hundreds of lives of mostly young school children. I think the most incredible of all the news items lately, is that of Meriam Ibrahim, the South Sudanese Christian lady who was condemned to death unless she denied her Christian faith. There was an outcry over her situation, with Presidents and Prime Ministers across continents condemning the action. This lady was made to deliver her baby, bound in chains, and was held in captivity because of her faith.
For those of us who have been through the process of child bearing, we can appreciate that it is bad enough to go through it unbound in the true sense of the word. But to be bound in chains whilst going through it must be unthinkable. Yet, this innocent lady went through it all. I can imagine that there were angels all around her strengthening her. She probably heard the heroes of faith (in Hebrews 11) calling out to her and telling her that they made it in spite of everything, and so could she.
As believers, sometimes we read some stories in the Bible like those of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, being cast into a furnace of fire because they refused to bow to the image of gold, which Nebuchadnezzar had built to be worshipped in Babylon (Daniel Chapter 3), and Daniel being cast in a den of lions, because he prayed to the Most High God, and would not bow to their idols (Daniel Chapter 6), and they appear to be ‘unreal’. I think the Lord allowed the story of what Meriam has endured because of her faith to be widely reported to help us to appreciate what our walk with God entails and to rethink our commitment to Him. Whilst for some of us, our relationship with God could equate to child’s play, I suppose her resilience and commitment to her faith in spite of all she endured in prison, speaks volumes to each of us individually and as a Body.
What does it feel like to give birth to your baby in shackles? What does it feel like for a little boy to be confined to the walls of a prison with his mother and baby sister because their mother would not denounce her faith? Our Lord Jesus Himself said (in John 16:1b-2) “...that you should not be made to stumble…; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father or Me”.
Beloved, the Psalmist says in Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” How can anyone taste God and want to go back into bondage? Indeed, Meriam has tasted and can declare that the Lord is good, and there was no way she was going to go back into a religion that will keep her in bondage. “For whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36); in prison, or out of prison, whether or not condemned to a horrific death sentence. What an encouragement she is to the Body of Christ! Her name can be written in gold amongst the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. In Luke 9:62, Our Lord Jesus said “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We also want to bless God for proving Himself to be the True and Only Living God, who answers when His children call upon Him. Just like the saints prayed in Acts 12, when Herod had Peter put in prison, so also did Christians all over the world pray for the release of Meriam. We give glory to God for her release. Personally, I had no doubt in my mind that she would be released, because of God’s faithfulness. But like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:17-18), “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand,… but if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the golden image which you have set up”. I can imagine that these words were ringing in Meriam’s heart and she was regurgitating them. Praise the Lord!
Today, it is the prayer of my heart that we would all be encouraged and strengthened in our faith by the incredible testimony of Meriam. We live in ‘perilous times’ and there’s a war raging in the heavenlies. The time for ‘playing church’ is over. It is time for us to take up our spiritual arms, and fight a good fight, and lay hold on eternal life. The Lord will help us in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
Your co-labourer in the Vineyard
Elewechi Ngozi M. Okike