I had been reading about the rescue and restoration of little King Joash and reflecting on the wonderful temple in Jerusalem. This is the temple which hid the infant king for 7 years thanks to God and the priest Jehoiada and his wife Jehoshabeath. "It was in that same temple that Jehoiada's son was later stoned to death by the same king Joash," I thought, as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up this morning with a shuddering dream on the edge of my mind.
I dreampt that I met a Christian who had lived in a hostile region and had been horrifically persecuted. He had come to visit my family while he was resting and recovering in our country. I had to close my eyes when they showed us evidence of the persecution because it was too much for me.
I am a real weakling when it comes to pain. At the first signs of headaches, I run for the Tylenol. And I still hide under a pillow during movies when there's violence. Somehow, at the same time, when I was young I used to have a falsely glamorized image of martyrdom. It seemed to be glorious like the depiction of Enjolras' death in the Broadway musical.
The past few weeks, I've had a fear rising in the back of my mind - that of religious persecution. While I live in a safe country, there are many overseas who do not. Christians suffer every day in various places around the world. Had I been born elsewhere, I would be one of them. And perhaps one day I will even become one of them. I shudder as I think of the faithful men and women listed towards the end of Hebrews 11.
Is this fear the whisperings of the evil one, trying to shake my faith? Is it my own anxiety about taking up my cross to follow Christ in this fallen world? Is it God trying to open my eyes to see His Church and encourage me to pray for my brothers and sisters? Perhaps all of these factors are at work in me.
This morning I cleaned out my email by canceling subscriptions to numerous listervs that I never read anymore and I joined a weekly email sent out by The Voice of the Martyrs. May I learn to serve as a priest of God by holding these souls close to my heart and offering the sweet incense of prayer to my Father in heaven.
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."