Tag Archive: Faith

Grace When Needed

Ibrahim, a doctor, gave birth to a daughter in prison, her legs chained during delivery. She fears her daughter may be disabled as a result.

Ibrahim, a doctor, gave birth to a daughter in prison, her legs chained during delivery. She fears her daughter may be disabled as a result.

Under a Death Sentence

Many of us have become acquainted with Meriam Ibrahim through the news. Meriam, a lovely, 27-year old Sudanese woman, was sentenced to death by hanging because of her Christianity, considered apostasy under Shariah law. We have prayed for her release and grieved with her husband, child and newborn. Meriam has shown rare courage and God-given strength by refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

While Ibrahim has been released into the US Embassy in Sudan, her future is still uncertain as the government threatens to bring other charges against her.

How Will I Respond?

How will I respond if/when I face this kind of persecution? Will I fold, or will I allow God to give me the strength to stand? We have some historic precedents. In the Old Testament, Daniel’s three friends were given a choice to bow down to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar or be thrown into a fiery furnace. They refused to worship his image, speaking boldly to the King: “… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

In his anger, the king ordered the fire to be heated seven times hotter than normal–hot enough that the guards who carried the three friends to the furnace were killed instantly. (Daniel 3:22)

What courage. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego trusted their sovereign God. Their faith was not based on His freeing them; they were committed to serving God whether they lived or died.

Grace When Needed

Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Ravensbruck concentration camp, once asked her father what it would be like to die. Here is how she recounts it in her book, The Hiding Place:

“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?’

“I sniffed a few times, considering this.

“‘Why, just before we get on the train.’

“‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.’”

Persecution can be subtle, as when my friend was mocked in a creative writing class for writing about her faith. Or it can be direct, as in the case of Meriam Ibrahim. My life was threatened when I ministered in the inner city of Los Angeles. I’m no hero. I’m terrified by the thought of persecution or torture. But I have told this to my God and said, “If it comes to that, give me your strength so that I remain faithful and true to you no matter what the circumstance or threat.” God has promised to supply our every need. I can only trust that, if and when it is needed, He will grant me the grace and strength to stand for Him. And therein lies my hope.

How About You?

Do you ever fear the possibility of persecution for your faith? How do you deal with that? I’d love to hear from you.

Pleasing God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Bonnie walked into the Intensive Care Unit, carrying a box of Krispy Kremes for the nurses. Everyone but me seemed to know this tall, lovely woman whose spouse was being treated at the same hospital where my husband fought a terminal illness.

One day I arrived to learn Jerry had been moved from Intensive to Transitional Care. He lay in the bed nearest the door, in a room with a man neither of us knew. Walking into the room, I pulled the curtain between the beds. As I sat by my hubby, I saw Bonnie enter the TCU, obviously looking for her own husband. She walked all the way around the unit and entered our room.

“Is that your husband?”

“Yes … and yours?”

“Yeah!”

She walked past us to George’s side. Quietly, holding Jerry’s hand, I began to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Seconds later, from behind the curtain, I heard an alto voice join my soprano. Bonnie’s and my heart bonded during our husbands’ illnesses and subsequent deaths.

George was developing a significant medical breakthrough. While Bonnie had worked with him, the inventiveness was George’s. But the Lord took him home with his work incomplete.

Bonnie stepped into the gap with George’s partner. She often told me, “Carol, this is so far beyond me. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But I keep telling the Lord, ‘I’m out of my league here. Please show me the next step.’” And He did. The process is getting closer to providing its life-saving properties. Bonnie is an example to me of stepping out in faith, going far beyond her comfort level, trusting in God’s promise to guide her.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Bonnie’s sacrifice of faith is one aspect of being pleasing to the Father.

After my first husband died, I went through a crisis of faith. What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? What if everything I believed was a lie and I would never see Jerry again? After several weeks of darkness, God reminded me of Peter’s response when Jesus asked if the disciples would also turn away from Him. “Where else would we go, Lord? You alone have the words of eternal life.” With that scripture, God lifted my spirit and restored my hope.

God isn’t pleased when I think I can “do life” on my own. He’s not impressed with my abilities or depressed because of my inabilities. Rather, it is often in my pain and authenticity–when I acknowledge my deep need for Him, when I throw myself on His mercy and grace, that Christ meets me and is pleased to respond.

“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Where do you need to trust, thereby pleasing Him?