When you don’t have TV in the normal sense (with an antennae, cable or satellite hookup) it’s easy to miss information on world events. I don’t get the paper & I rarely see the news. I do, however, see bits of stories as well as links via social media. Sometimes I click through & sometimes I don’t. Isn’t that the way of today? Fast paced feeds in front of readers with short attention spans.

It seems that the most frequently shared stories are those of either horror or of fierce bravery despite obstacles. Recently, one of the most prevalent stories is of 21 men beheaded by ISIS while refusing to deny Christ. For this, I clicked through. The essence of the story was undeniable; both abominably cruel and inspirational bravery.

It’s the horror of men meeting the glory of God.

Light meets the dark and worlds collide in tragedy, yet beauty.

The enemy thinks he’s won, but God’s victory through the cross is already done. In the midst of gross worldly injustice the Lord is still sovereign. But, oh it hurts the heart & baffles the mind. We can’t comprehend.

Christians under persecution & men refusing to turn their backs on Christ make my heart sob & rejoice at the same time.

The list of names repeats over and over again on my Facebook feed. I’m stunned to see them. Initially I wonder, “If these names were read out of context what would we immediately assume about their beliefs?. Would we care so much about their deaths if we didn’t know why, but only knew the names?”

My eyes are transfixed on the photo with names. These are real men, with real faith and this really just happened.

My heart really shakes.

I needed to act in the only way I really could, by praying for the families. I didn’t want to just skim through the list and I didn’t want to let this event slip through my eyesight without a few minutes of somber reflection. So, I prayed & read each name out loud.

21 Martyrs

21 Martyrs

After saying only the first name, tears welled in my eyes and I could barely speak the next one. I called on the Lord to comfort the families. I thanked him for the bravery of each man. As I continued down the list, the reality of what happened gripped my heart a bit more. Modern day martyrs marched and the world would see.

Then, what I read wasn’t a name. I reached number fifteen, “Worker from Awr village“.

What? No name? I wondered why.

Immediately, I thought of all the unnamed soldiers buried beneath white crosses.

I thought of unknown women, girls and boys trapped in a life of sex trafficking.

And I thought of men & women who fight tirelessly to survive a life that seems relentlessly unfair & most of us never know.

Lord, my heart hurts. These people all have names. But I can’t name this man in prayer, or any of these others. I have to be content with the fact that you know. I’ll pray anyway.

Life continues, as it tends to do, and I got caught up in the day & family activities. Then I found out that an undeserved parking citation I’d received while out of state had to be taken care of in person at the St. Paul courthouse. Thank goodness I was still in MN. But, who really wants to spend an afternoon alone at the courthouse instead of walking around the Mall of America with family as planned? Not me.

I was pretty frustrated that I couldn’t take care of this over the phone or via some electronic method. The ticket was given one minute after paying for the parking meter & the meter reading person had to have seen me. Surely.

As I sat in the office, rather bored, I wondered why I didn’t feel angry. Instead I was just a bit miffed. Immediately an answer same to mind.

21 men.

21 Martyrs

21 Martyrs

What did I really have to complain about? I thought of the snow & cold outside & how I was sitting warm & cozy. Then I remembered the days of fostering with up to 12 kids in the house & how I was now by myself & it was rather quiet. I thought of those who are kidnapped, tortured & killed for worshiping God while I wait in line to be deal with an inconvenience.

Today’s frustration gave way to gratitude. Three “I shouldn’t be here,” hours prompted, “Those men shouldn’t have had to be there” reflections. And I’m grateful for where I am.

While my heart grieves for the families & this incredible tragedy I’m even more grateful for where they are now, fully praising with wild abandon before the Lord who loves them. I’m grateful for the testimony of courage they left behind.

I realize their names may not be remembered in the months or years to come, but their courage and their story will live on.

May we mourn with those who mourn, all of the them. The names we know and the names we don’t know.

May we bravely raise our hands in praise & thankfulness for all who courageously live for Christ, no matter the cost.

May we too live in such a way that in all we do we #makemuchofHim.

with love, Jolene

 {Picture sources unknown due to viral nature online. If you can confirm origination please let me know.}