Coke Zero and a Hostage Situation

In case you were wondering, I meant to leave off the end of that verse on the last post. We ended with, “Resist him and stand firm in the faith,” but there’s more. 1 Peter 5:9b finishes this way:
“…knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.” 1 Pet. 5:9b
Do we know? Really? That phrase “same sufferings” is worth a second glance. Let’s pick on me, for example. Just recently I very nearly had a “moment” when I went to the pantry for a Coke Zero and saw the empty case beside the trash can. In the nanosecond it took me to realize there was another case of the stuff waiting in my periphery, I was trying to figure out which family member had dared to take my last drink. Sad but true, I was ready to feed the perpetrator to the mountain lion.
The very next day, I heard some news that makes me a little embarrassed about my near pout over an empty Coke Zero carton. My friend’s brother and his wife serve as missionaries in Africa. I promised him I would be careful with the information I’m about to share because of the sensitivity of the situation where he serves, so here’s the skinny – He works with a relief organization, and travels to remote areas to distribute necessities to those in need. In their part of the world, it is very dangerous work. Just last week, a friend of theirs named Jessica, who works for a Danish demining organization, was kidnapped by Somali pirates and taken hostage along with a colleague of hers named Poul. The two were traveling in a 3-vehicle convoy en route to a Nairobi flight after attending a demining seminar in Somalia, but their bodyguard, secretly working with the pirates,  betrayed them. Since then, more violence erupted when rival pirate clans fought over control of the hostages. As of the time I’m writing this, Jessica and Poul are still being held hostage, and are reportedly doing “well”. You can read about it here
When Peter wrote to stand firm because Satan is a prowling lion, his context was persecution, not the inconveniences of our self-absorbed lives (check out 1 Pet. 3:13-4:19). And the Bible has plenty more to say on the subject, too:
“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:18-20
“In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim. 3:12
“Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution, we were encouraged about you through your faith.” 1 Thess. 3:7
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matt. 5:10

“strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, ‘It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.'” Acts 14:22
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-10

It’s a guarantee…if we’re going about the business of Jesus, then the prowling lion is gonna come around. It’s a comfortable place we live in, here in America. It’s hard to relate to Christians in other parts of the world, like Jessica, Poul, and my friend’s brother who risk their lives every single day to love God and people. But we can still share in those “same sufferings” with them, and we should. Pray for Jessica and Poul’s safe release. Pray for my friend’s brother, who is willing to risk and sacrifice much to serve Christ every day. And as for us, let God alter our perspective in such a way that we set aside the stuff of earth to grab hold of the pursuit of making Him known, no matter the cost.

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