LENT REFLECTION - DAY 27
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, 'Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?' 11 They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow-servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.
Revelation 6:9 NRSVA
Like many people I often wake up, and find myself very quickly scrolling through the news. Some days when the news overflows with stories of violence I find myself perturbed and crying out (often silently whilst Bren is sleeping) to God as to why it has to be this way. The author of Revelation was exiled to Patmos for his beliefs and he was aware of the persecution that believers were experiencing in some regions and churches in Asia and beyond. The message he shares in the Book of Revelation to believers was to hold onto hope. To recognise Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain by man was now resurrected, and at the centre of God's throne and the heavenly drama working out God's redemption plans for the whole of creation. He shares a majestic image of the throne room where Elders are falling down around the throne in worship, holding the prayers of believers in incense bowls and raising up songs of exaltation (Rev 5: 6-9).
John in extreme circumstances is encouraging believers to stay true to Jesus, recognising that triumph will come, sharing the dramatic image of the martyrs souls, those who have stayed true, there, in the heavenly realm under the altar. They had followed Jesus Christ unto death and God had brought them near to him and robed them in white. According to God's own truth and goodness God had judged and condemned those who ordered these deaths, and vindicated the martyred. The believers are to hold onto their confidence, to be patient, trusting that God is sovereign over history. Ultimately, there will be judgement of evil and justice for the persecuted and martyred.
In the same way when we are wrestling with the injustices and cruelties of the world we must remain confident in Jesus as our Saviour, Healer, Baptiser and Soon Coming King. This morning let's recognise as shared in the article attached written by our church member Jeremy that people are still being martyred for their faith today. Let's pray for them and their families, and find ourselves inspired and strengthened by their witness to us.
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, NRSVA
Father God, some days we wake up and it seems like the cruelty and injustices of the world seems overwhelming. We recognise that our faith today is testament to the faith and strength in Christ of the early church. We thank You for their steadfastness and for the faith and resolve of the persecuted today. We thank You for their courage and witness to us. We ask for Your help for he persecuted and oppressed around the world. And Your comfort for the loved ones of the martyrs. We thank You for the freedom we have and we pray that we will not take this for granted but use our freedom to help others. Bless believers all around the world, give us courage and confident faith in every circumstance. Amen.