|Image originally published #SacredSunday August 17, 2014|
Over the past 6 months, stories and public horror have mounted as hostages have been publicly displayed in orange jumpsuits, eventually beheaded, and most recently set ablaze. Additional stories have come out revealing the horror Boko Haram is inflicting upon the people of Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon as they take slaves, commit suicide bombings, and massacre whole villages all in the name of their brand of religion.
For the majority of my life, crucifixion, the torture of flogging, and living in constant fear of persecution have seemed like archaic practices that happened thousands of years ago. We, in the disability community, sadly know better than most that if a person does not actually experience such things, they have a hard time relating to them. Suffering can seem so distant when it's not our own.
Yet now, with virtually any person anywhere a potential victim to such persecution and murder, the sacrifice of our Jesus Christ is made so very real. Where the boundless depravity of man is grotesquely displayed, His sacrificial, selfless love shines all the brighter. He is the one in that orange jumpsuit, when it should have been you, been me. He is doused with gasoline in that cage, crying out as they light the flame, "Father, forgive them! They know not what they do!" In the places where we might find ourselves kidnapped by these monsters, He is right there saying, "I'll take their place instead." Where we are within inches of our lives, Jesus comes to the rescue.
Lest Christ seem like any average person standing in our place, imagine James Foley suddenly appearing at home fully restored. Imagine the burned soldier bursting forth from the bulldozed soil. Imagine Kayla Mueller suddenly embracing her astonished family. Imagine all of those disabled, weak Yazidis and Kurds reunited with those they love.
While the loved ones of these martyrs would love for such a miracle to happen, only Jesus earned the name Savior as He rose from the grave, repeatedly appearing to hundreds over a 40 day stretch. The fact that He took our sins and tortuous death is dwarfed by His Resurrection, which promises each of us who believe eternal joy.
Maybe next time you are in church, you will find yourself like I did this past Sunday -- swallowing tears as I looked upon the cross, visualizing the reality of what Jesus did for me. With incredible gratitude and sorrow I prayed for all the would-be victims of these misguided savages in need of our Savior.
PRAY: Lord, have mercy on us, hopeless sinners. Push back the darkness with Your light. Comfort the persecuted. Help us to tell the story of Your Good News whenever these stories of terror emerge.
~ Barb Dittrich