(This reflection comes from a Browncroft global outreach partner living in the Middle East. For privacy and safety all names have been changed. But the story is real!)
The invitation came in a text message from Sami.
“Joseph, would you and Grace please come to visit us tonight?”
Usually it was Mira, his wife, who would ask me (Grace) to visit and talk over some strong Arabic coffee. An invitation from her husband suggested a more serious need.
Sami and Mira are our Muslim friends, but they feel more like family to us. We have had many visits together and have often described our relationship with God. We openly share our confidence in God’s love and goodness in our lives because we have been reconciled with God through Jesus.
This time, Sami seemed distraught. He holds an important government position and feels a heavy weight of responsibility for his family and his country. COVID is rampant. The economy is crumbling. And he fears for the future of his young sons.
He needed hope… so he called us. And we went to visit them.
As we listened to Sami share his fears and concerns, I could feel the darkness of despair closing in. As usual, I was quietly praying as we listened. I prayed for spiritual ears to hear and for words of comfort to share.
Sami and Mira have heard some of our stories of God’s faithfulness in difficult times. But, this time, I shared how God gives us joy during our sufferings.
I said, “No matter what is happening, God’s comfort and joy are always available to me. When I suffer, I run to God… every time. And, every time, he comforts me, and I am filled with his joy.”
I told them that if God were to call me that day to spend eternity with him, I would gladly go.
“Never!” Mira cried, “May you have a thousand more years of life!”
“But, Mira, why would I want a thousand more years of suffering when I can have eternal joy in the presence of my God? I am not saying that I wish to die but that I wish to be as close to God as possible.”
Sami was deep in thought… and then said,
“I know why we do not have joy. We are not close to God.”
They are not (yet) reconciled with God through Christ. But we have the message of reconciliation, and God has sent us as his ambassadors, making his appeal through us.
This message has been entrusted to us to be shared. And so, we live in a land where there are far too few ambassadors to share this joyous message of reconciliation.
Photo by Keith Fox on Unsplash