What if this were the last year? I’m not saying it is! But if it were, how would you live?
Asia Bibi’s story has been in the news for years. The mother of five has been in prison since 2010… over a cup of water.
Her crime was to offer water she’d fetched from a well to women who were picking berries with her at a farm. The women told Asia they could not drink that water because, as a Christian, she was ceremonially unclean. They demanded she convert to Islam. She refused and testified for her faith.
Now she faces execution. Her final appeal will be heard by Pakistan’s supreme court on Thursday—Wednesday night here in the U.S. They might or might not reverse her sentence of death by hanging.
I’m sure there have been many times when she sat in her cell and told God this didn’t make sense. That she did her best to be faithful, and now her kids are growing up without her.
I can’t entirely make sense of it either, except to say that Jesus foretold it.
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:9-13)
And He also told us:
“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)
I’m confident Asia’s injustice is a piece in a much bigger puzzle only He can see. The story includes the inspiration she’s given all of us—if a field-working mother of five in a closed country can be so reckless for her faith, what’s wrong with me?
Do I think I have too much to lose?
Jesus says the story ends with the gospel of the kingdom being preached as a testimony to all nations. I hope and pray Asia can take comfort in knowing that’s the story she has a role in.
All nations. Even those where Christians face tremendous persecution today. Were you aware that according to the U.S. State Department, that covers 74% of the world’s population, by the way? That surprised me!
I am confident of one other thing. When Asia looks back on this from her place of honor at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, she will not regret the sacrifice she made.
I posted a link to Asia’s story on Facebook as a sort of public service announcement and spent a tiny sum of money to “boost” it. What happened from there was phenomenal—a true adventure. Believers around the world commented their prayers for her. Thousands of them. And several hundred shared her story. So far, Facebook says more than 238,000 people have seen it, just from the seed sown by that one “boosted” post.
I am overwhelmed and, on Asia’s behalf, beyond grateful. I tried at first to keep up with the comments but I’ve officially given up. God bless you all!
But how many others languish in silence, without the prayers of thousands and the visibility and the advocacy afforded by “viral” posts?
Never mind. Our Father who sees in secret sees every tear they cry and feels every tear they don’t and will reward them. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)
You never know when you leave your house in the morning what choices might confront you that day. And what repercussions your decisions might have.
I’ve posed this question of a couple of dear friends and I got very similar answers.
If I knew this was the last year, I would live it by faith. I would ask God every day to show me how to love Him more and better and where He wants me to spend my time.
Is this the last year? It could be. Only the Father knows. But shouldn’t we live like it is anyway?
Reckless faith. I pray by God’s grace I’ll have it when it comes down to it.
OCTOBER 13 UPDATE: Asia has not been sentenced to death, praise God! Our prayers have been answered! However, she has not been freed either. One of the three judges recused himself and the hearing was postponed to an unspecified future date. Did his decision perhaps have something to do with the fact that two government officials (Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti) who were brave enough to support her have been assassinated for their stand?
In any case, we must keep praying for Asia and the people of Pakistan and believing God that the delay will be for His greater glory.