Life isn’t always easy. Life is beautiful, but it’s also messy, hard, unjust and at times pretty crap. Unfortunately, just because we know Jesus, it doesn’t mean the crapness goes away. We’re still us, the world is still broken and our journey will be full of good times – and not so good times.
But we’re not alone. Before Jesus was arrested and crucified, he gathered his closest followers and told them that once he’d gone, he’d send them a helper – someone who would encourage and empower them. That helper was the Holy Spirit, and at Pentecost, those early Christians received a massive boost in their mission to keep the message of hope that Jesus had given them alive – and growing.
The Holy Spirit is with us today. His job is to help us know and connect with God better, and in bad times, he’s one of the ways we can cling onto our faith. Without him we’d be lost.
This is a truth many Christians have learnt – especially those facing persecution. When trouble comes, it’s easy to give up. When trouble comes will we stand the test? It’s a question that’s been about for as long as there have been Christians. And one, that’s answered best by an example.
Hanna is a Christian from Damascus, in Syria. Over the last 4 years Syria has fallen into a devastating and horrific civil war. She’s seen her community destroyed, with violence and insecurity erupting all around her. Followers of Jesus have been in Syria since the earliest days of Christianity, but in the last several years tens of thousands have fled. The church in Syria (and neighbouring Iraq) is on its knees, caught between two warring sides, literally bleeding.
‘The situation is hard, but we are living by faith’
Hanna stayed in Syria for around three years into the conflict. Here’s why:
“Attacks on churches happen a lot now. They are also targeting Christians. Many of them are killed or kidnapped. When they kidnap someone, they ask their families for ransom or force them to convert to Islam…
People wonder why I am still staying in this country. I ask myself the same question time after time. As a mother and a wife I want to leave, but as a Christian I want to stay. Every time my husband and I pray, God gives us a burden on our heart: stay in Syria. He has things to do for us here.
God will bless Syria, I know this for sure. He is already blessing us. Every time we go to church, the church is full. People come together in times of despair. But we also see new faces every time. Many of the new faces are people with a Muslim background, refugees. They say, ‘We’ve lost everything – our house, our job, family members – but we gained the most important thing: the knowledge that Jesus is our saviour.’ Recently 30 people in our church were baptised. Three or four of them were from a Muslim background. The situation is hard, but we are living by faith.”
We might not face the same situations like Hanna, but life can still be tough. Like Hanna we need to remember that God is with us, and that his Holy Spirit is here to help us. Like Hanna we can learn to lean on God during the tough times, and during those moments God may well use us to tell others of the hope he offers. Like Hanna we can learn to say ‘The situation is hard, but we are living by faith’.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.