I am a mom of two, residing in the comforts of North America. I plan to go out today to shop for my daughter’s first day of school and spend time with my in-laws at dinner this evening. Yet, it feels wrong to enjoy all of this as I remember Afghanistan and all the turmoil the country is experiencing. I am no expert in the way to supply the Afghani’s needs, nor am I in contact with anyone from that country. I am far removed from what they are facing and have only the news and other sources who remain in contact with those enduring the hardships, just as you. Even as I went to write, thoughts of insufficiency rolled around my mind. “You don’t even know anyone over there.” “You have already posted once about it, don’t be obnoxious.” “Don’t act like you really know what Afghanistan needs.”
There is one miraculous Source that unites me to many treading waters I have never trod.
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”1 Corinthians 12:13
The power of the Holy Spirit is working within me and all those who are united to Christ by faith in His atoning work on the cross. We are one Body, held together by Christ as the head, led by His Spirit. Every believer is now tethered together with those who are under extreme duress all over the world, including Afghanistan. Because this is true, Paul tells us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
In light of this, and in light of the incredible suffering and persecution the Afghanistan church is enduring, what can we do? How can we suffer with them?
As I said before, I am no expert. There are many who have written articles who have beautifully laid out points to reference as we seek to help. I write not to direct you as they have, I write to remind you of your place in this fight. We may feel our efforts are punitive and small. As if we have no right to pray because our faith is so small. And even now you may be receiving thoughts that stifle any passion to intercede because there are those here who need Christ and need His help. There are those in your neighborhood who are suffering unimaginable hardships. And, all of that is probably true. Here is what we need to remember. Suffering is not a measuring stick we use to decide who gets the most help. Paul doesn’t say, “when one suffers the most, we suffer with them.” He says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together.” We don’t get to pick and choose. This is reality. The Body is suffering and because of this, there is strain. As a healthy hand reaches for the foot when it throbs, so should the healthy members of the body reach to aid the members weighted down by pain. Right now, all signals are pointing to Afghanistan.
Today, I invite you to pray with me. Pray as those who have been made worthy by the blood of Christ. Pray as those who have been given access to the Father, through the Spirit. Pray standing on the love of God as your foundation, using the shield of faith to catch any condemning accusations hurled your way. Pray as those who have every reason to trust that God hears the cries of the afflicted. Pray as if you were in Afghanistan. Pray as if you really are a member of the Body. Pray confidently, trusting that the Spirit of God will translate every inarticulate groan into intercession that accords with the will of God.
Take courage knowing that the God who sees the extreme suffering of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, tends to us as well. His arms are never too short. He is full of might and He is able. Let your cries for Afghanistan create a new hunger for prayer that leads you to trust again that God listens to the requests–miniscule or massive–of His beloved children.
Pray with me:
We pray the words of Psalm 17.
Keep Afghanistan as the apple of your eye; hide the helpless in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do them violence, their deadly enemies who surround them.
Hear a just cause, O Lord! Come to their aid. Deliver them from the plans of the evil one. Give them courage to face threats with unwavering hope in the salvation of their God. Let not their hearts give way to the temptation to cower down.
Wondrously show your steadfast love to them, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Arise, O Lord! Deliver them from the hands of evil men! Rescue the helpless, those who have no helper. And let the chaos of this moment open doors for the gospel to advance in places it has never reached.
Lord, let the suffering of those around us awaken boldness within us. Let us enjoy your good gifts with great joy and worship you with all we are in this place of security and peace. Yet, keep the American church from complacency. Let this tragedy awaken the whole Body to run with endurance the race before us as we look to Jesus. You are worthy of our lives, even unto death.