Faith has a thousand faces. The famous “Heroes of Faith” chapter (Hebrews 11) lists some of them: Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Joshua. There are others we recall: Jeremiah in his pit, John the Baptist in his dungeon, Paul, Athanasius and Martin Luther against the world.
Add to those thousands the face of 27 year-old Meriam Ishag, recently sentenced to be hanged in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Married to a Christian, and raised by a Christian mother in the absence of her Muslim father, she was convicted of “apostasy,” deserting the Muslim faith of her father. She is also charged with adultery under “sharia” law for marrying a Christian (100 lashes for that). Meriam shares a jail cell with her little boy. This past week she gave birth to a baby girl. Her Christian husband was allowed to see her, but only under guard. Given the chance to save herself by converting to Islam, Meriam told the judge: “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.” It is unclear if outsiders can save her from the gallows.
Our own turn may not be far behind. The war and the bloodshed, the terrorism and the moral decay all around us, the natural disasters and the breakdown of all order, the apathetic attitudes of those who call themselves Christians and the denial of basic Bible teachings by those who stand in pulpits across our land – these things are all previews of coming attractions, telegrams of things to come. We ought not be surprised. Christ has told us.
And if, for the moment at least, your house is still standing and your electricity is still on, and your biggest problem is paying more for a tank of gas, do not draw too hasty a conclusion from that. As C.S. Lewis once observed: “If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.”
Let there be no whining when our time of testing comes. Let there be no selfish hoarding of the blessings God has bestowed. Let there be no surrender to the false teachings of our times. Let there be no proud hearts that wage war on grace. Rather, let us deny ourselves. Let us take up our cross and follow after Him who was crucified for us. Let us put on the armor of God. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Let us show our colors, unashamed. Let us fight the good fight of the faith.
Let us join with Jeremiah and thousands upon thousands of others. For our time has now come. The fog is descending – as it ever has for heroes of faith. Is your face among them?
Let us join those, who by faith in the doing and dying of Christ, shall receive what we have all hoped for, and shall see what we have all been certain of – to rise from dust to glory everlasting.