Keep on, keeping on!
During the last few weeks, whilst I’ve been writing letters to the Iranian Ambassador and praying earnestly about Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s sentence of execution, I read the following
“When it comes to publicly protesting the sentences of death row inmates, celebrity outrage for a convicted cop-killer is off the charts, but a Christian pastor in Iran about to die for his beliefs doesn’t even rate a ‘tweet’. Urgent protests were made on the part of Troy Davis by celebrities proclaiming his innocence and horrified by his imminent execution: Kim Kardashian, P. Diddy, Russell Simmons, Salman Rushdie and Alec Baldwin were among the many stars who used their substantial platforms like Twitter to raise awareness about the case But the celebrity silence regarding an even more outrageous and clear cut injustice is deafening; at any moment, Iranian Christian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani may be killed because he refuses to renounce his Christianity.”
An interesting observation, but it didn’t really help me to pray except to ask the Lord to bring Pastor Yousef’s situation into the light. And certainly in the last few days, our own Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Bishop of Canterbury strongly condemned the execution, and today I read, headlined in the International Business Times “Safe from Execution, for Now – It appears that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will avoid the hangman in Iran for the time being.” But then it reports Iran as now saying “There has been no execution order.”!
So God is answering our prayers, but what a roller coaster ride for Yousef, his wife and two boys.
I’ve been thinking about Mark 13:13 “Stay with it – that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” This follows on from v.11, where Jesus assures us that when we’re arrested and brought to trial, He will give us the words to say. And then urges us to keep going; that such perseverance is a sure indication of being saved. So I’ve been praying for that perseverance for them, but for me too, and for all of us as we go through our own difficulties, even minor persecutions. And following the same theme in Hebrews too, in the following verses:
Hebrews 3:12-14 So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
6:9-12 I’m sure that won’t happen to you, friends. I have better things in mind for you – salvation things! God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.
32-36 Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse – some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.
Keep on, keeping on!