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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Perseverance

I have to confess that my interest in the annual Wimbledon saga is only marginally greater than my interest in the World (soccer) Cup!. However, I think that anyone would have been impressed by the sheer stamina and perseverance shown by Nicolas Mahut and John Isner in their marathon fifth set - more than eleven hours in total, with a total of 138 games! The winner (as if there could really be a loser!), for anyone who missed it, was John Isner - 70-68!

One newspaper report of the match ended with these words: "Supreme will, outrageous spectacle, wonderful story. The best thing of all, though, was that even after everything, Mahut could still leave the court just as he had arrived - smiling." (The Daily Telegraph).

It's a wonderful testimony to the gamesmanship of both men. But my mind went to my brothers and sisters in Christ who persevere in their faithfulness to Him through situations and circumstances that demand a level of commitment that puts even these two tennis-players into the shade.

I thought of the situation in Pakistan from where, in recent days, I have received so many disturbing reports. For example, two Christian families are devastated after their young daughters were raped. In Kotri village, Sindh province, a brutal assault on a six-year-old girl has left her in intensive care. And in Mohalla Raja Sultan, Rawalpindi, a 14-year-old is recovering from being kidnapped, drugged and raped by five men.

The attackers of the 14-year-old threatened to kill her unless her father allowed her to convert to Islam and marry one of her rapists. The child was freed on June 6 – eight days after she was abducted – during a police raid near Islamabad. Her attackers told her father they believed they would have '70 virgins in heaven' if they raped or married a non-Muslim girl. He has since reported the incident to the police.

In the case of the six-year-old child, however, her relatives' initial attempts to persuade police to investigate only prolonged their torment. A reliable source said that police arrested the girl's 'close relatives' instead and tortured them to try to extract a confession from them. They were freed only when local media showed an interest in the case.

The same source says the six-year-old girl is in a stable condition but is 'extremely traumatised'. It has been reported that she is not receiving 'proper medical care'.

Such reports could, sadly, be multiplied many times. Yet these dear people hold fast to their faith in the Lord, Jesus the Christ. In the face of extreme persecution, they continue to follow Him. To them, the exhortation of Paul to the believers in Philippi must be filled with a depth of meaning that is denied to those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but who continue to enjoy the liberty of the 'western' world - "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine." (Phil 1:27-30; RSV)

As we applaud those who persevere in the realm of sport, let us be mindful of those who persevere in the realm of the faith - and whose reward is the assurance of eternity in the presence of the risen, and glorified, Lord.

1 comment:

CannuckCol said...

Obviously these brothers and sisters hold fast to Romans 8.35&36"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."