I have been privileged to stand among hundreds of saints from all over this world and worship.
There is something about watching image bearers from hostile nations with arms lifted to their limits, worshiping. There is something about participating in heart-gripping glory with people who have been redeemed in all races, languages, contexts and troubles that humbles me to my core.
There is nothing more beautiful. And by "nothing,' I don't mean it in the way some say "love" or "awesome," hollowly and with flippancy. I actually mean that on this side of eternity, I have never seen anything more beautiful.
I look around the room. I see faces in every shade and color. Flags representing nations. The light from the stage glows. And I think about how some of those faces will have their lives unjustly taken from them for the very reason they are in this room with me. Because they love Jesus.
It's struck me a handful of times over the years that moments like these in life are sacred. Moments that are meant to strike your core, make you swell with joy, while at the same time your eyes swell with sorrow-filled tears. Joy because this is the closest thing to eternity that I will experience this side of heaven. Sorrow because it reminds me how the earth groans to be reborn, justified, rescued.
We read of the terrors occurring. We watch our God-fearing siblings as they inhale one last time.
While these things happen, I cannot help but to think of my life. My comfortable, non-threatened, white, superfluously filled life. It amazes me that I can post a photo of my feet on Instagram the same day that twelve of my brothers and sisters are crucified on the other side of the world.
How do I reconcile this?
In talking with an acquaintance over these things at a coffee shop, this person reminded me of a great truth. He told me that while it's important and right to ache for the broken ones, humanity's injustice and those who are losing their bodily lives, it's important also to remember that regardless of our physical circumstances, our focus must be not how we might die for Christ, but rather how we might live.
In my own meditation on this I have realized that the enemy in both affliction and comfort is the same, although in one case he appears behind the merciless eyes of man, and in the other as a sweet talking serpent.
It's too easy to try to put myself in the shoes of the martyrs. It's too easy to focus on my fleshly fear of persecution. But the fact remains that our God is one of intention, not accident. And while I find myself in this life circumstance that I have been intentionally given, how then am I living? If that is my lot for this time in life, it must be my focus. And with that I must trust that if my lot changes to follow suit to my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, that the Lord will give to me according to my need to face it.
So when I reflect on being in a room filled with worldwide saints, I can rejoice and rejoice fully. Because while we are aching for our world, we are also living in pursuit of holy glory, whatever our lot.
This is how I reconcile.