To the Christians in Afghanistan, especially those of you about to die for your faith, I doubt you will ever have the chance to read this, but my heart breaks for you. The Lord knows your anguish. He knows the trouble you face, and he is aware of your powerlessness. He also sees your poverty, but he wants you to remember you are spiritually rich (Rev. 2:9). Do not trade what is eternal for what is temporary.
God’s word says not to fear what you are about to suffer. The devil is about to throw some of you into prison. Others will be beaten, and still, others will be killed. Be faithful unto death, and Jesus will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). Most importantly, remember, though you may die now, you will not be hurt by the second death (Rev. 2:11). You will stand in glory on the day of judgment.
If I, your brother in Christ, were in your place, I do not know how I would fare. My biggest fear would be, how will I have the strength to stand before my killers when they call me to renounce my faith in Jesus? Once again, the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit are my only comforters. With the danger surrounding you, the enemy will do everything he can to tempt you to despair. However, the scripture reminds us, the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear; he has given us a spirit of power and love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). This truth will be crucial to remember in the coming days.
No matter how weak we are in our natural selves, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Remember who you are. You are a child of God. Think about that for a moment. You have the Spirit of Power dwelling in you. No matter how weak your body may become during this ordeal, or ours as we suffer with you, it is not your strength that needs to be strong; it will be his strength.
In Christ, he will give you all that you need to face even the most difficult challenges of your life. In your entire Christian walk, you may have never experienced the Holy Spirit’s power to the extent that you are going to need it in the coming days, but that is because you have never faced anything this terrible. Our Lord does not give us his power before we need it, but when there is a great demand, his supply will meet it. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Though there are a million things you may dread in the days ahead, you have this to look forward to; the power of God will be at work in you in ways you have only dreamed.
May we all rely on his power during this time, but the Spirit of Power is not all he has given us. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Love as well. He loves us. In times like this, Satan will bring every sin to remembrance. He will tell us we deserve this and more. He will say to us God has abandoned us. When he says this, he is only half-right. Our sins deserve so much worse than we will ever experience, but he has not left us. Christ’s love for us is so great that he took every one of our wretched sins and bore the punishment on the cross. Through faith, the cup of his wrath is empty because he drank all of it. The bow of his anger is at rest because the Father took the arrows we deserved, pointed them at his Son, and let them fly. His love is overwhelming. There is not a single drop of God’s wrath in what you are facing. Only his love is at work toward you, and his Spirit of Love in you will press this home as you need it. This Spirit of love will also help you love those around you: even your enemies.
Our good and gracious King has not only given you a spirit of power and love but also of a sound mind. This sound mind is another aspect of the Spirit dwelling in you that will lift your head during this time. The natural man does not have this. He cannot see beyond this life. Our prayer is that the Lord will rescue you and that we will have many more years together, but crossing the Jordan, whenever that happens is not the end of our story. It is only the beginning. Eternity awaits all believers. What we experience in this life is only the introduction to our stories, and the most glorious part has yet to unfold.
The Holy Spirit will be writing eternity on your heart in ways you have never thought possible. I am sure you are already beginning to experience it. This spiritual insight will be the most Christ-exalting gift of God you will be able to share with others who are still bound to the things of this world, and it will be powerful. However, this will not be without opposition. At times like this, the enemy will come to you and remind you of how we failed to redeem the time in the past, but the Lord will restore the years the locust has eaten (Joel 2:25). This blazing bright eternal perspective he will give you will be a means to multiply the fruit in your life which will more than recover any lost time.
As we who live in religious freedom watch your stories unfold, you will minister to us. We live assuming something to be true that has never been promised. We presume that tomorrow will be the same because today was good (Isaiah 56: 12). You remind us that we are relying too much on the things of the world. You shed light on the fact that we too often take our freedom for granted. We often fail to gather for worship for trivial reasons. We have Bibles sitting on our shelves we rarely pick up because we assume they will always be there when we need them. We never imagine that we may one day be in a position like yours, where our Bibles are ripped from our hands, and the only scripture available to us will be that we have committed to memory. The Lord is using you to wake us up from all of that and help us set our minds on things above. Your suffering is not in vain.
My heart breaks with you and your loved ones as you face this. The sorrow will be great and the difficulty beyond imagination, but as you are in the valley of trouble, God will speak tenderly to you (Hosea 2:14). He has filled you with his Spirit, who is infinitely greater than anything in front of you. Get ready because, in this darkness, you are about to see the brilliance of Christ’s glorious light and love like never before. He is a good Shepherd, and we can trust him wherever he calls us to walk.
You have our prayers, and if we never have a chance to meet in this life, we will one day worship our Savior together on the glorious shores of eternity.
We love you!
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:10-11).