What makes me think I face any real struggles in this life? Because I’m not currently in my dream job? Because life isn’t panning out exactly where I hoped it would? We all have those days, where, we’re like, “Really Lord? Why?” You know those times you face where you’re ready to crawl out of your skin and you don’t understand how God can possibly stretch you any further? We’ll, I know do, but I’m finding even at my greatest point of struggle I am such a featherweight in this fight in comparison to some; in comparison to the likes of Youcef Nadarkhani, a man who just today has been convicted guilty of converting to Christianity and therefore will be put to death. This is actually still happening. We think of such an absurd conviction as obsolete to our current culture, as so removed from our reality. But there is a man, right now, being beaten and likely tortured for his love of Jesus Christ. After a few more opportunities and refusing to claim Allah as his god, Youcef’s sentence, to be “executed at any time without warning,” grieves me and wakes me up.
Can those of us who share a love and relationship with God, even begin to understand what love is? Honestly, I find myself struggling at times to trust God’s perfect, sovereign will when my present state doesn’t match whatever I dreamt up in my head 5 years ago. Certain choices I’ve made, since committing my life to Christ, I’ve even considered to be sacrificial, as if I’m doing God a favor. When really, I’m the one favored and blessed with a life and love I don’t deserve. And what has He asked of me? To follow, to love Him as He has loved me. For Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, with 2 sons and a wife on the other side, saying no to Islam and yes to God with his life on the line is love like we do not often see; a truly sacrificial love that may be the most beautiful, unnerving kind of love to offer.
A man who won’t waiver his words and won’t play along in the game, when asked to claim Muhammad as a prophet and continues to name Jesus as his Lord, embodies more love and commitment than seems humanly possible. And likely, it will be the death of him. (Though we know eternity awaits.) I hate the thought that such an absurd action could still claim the life of an innocent man. I hate the thought of what is being done to him right now, as he clings to Christ as the one, true God. And I hate to think that I assume I understand suffering. Granted we all face it at different degrees, to what, I believe, God knows we can handle. We’re all aware that persecution still takes place, but can we possibly conceive the love it would take to cling to Christ as your Savior to the point of death? The next time I cry or complain about the disruptions in my life I hope I think of Youcef. I hope I think of his wife and his boys and the legacy that they will leave. If I ever fail to, please kindly slap this post in my face. In the mean time, pray that God would miraculously intercede for Youcef Nadarkhani.