I live just outside the border of Monterey Park, within walking distance of a dance studio where, last weekend, a 72-year-old gunman shot and killed 11 people and wounded nine others. Usually, when I sit down to write a monthly “how I prayed” piece, China is the forefront of my mind. But this week, it is hard to tear my thoughts away from my own community, which is in shock after the tragic shooting.
When you endure hardship, you are proclaiming that Christ is all in all, he is my sufficiency. You are not boasting in yourself. Our hope is that, eventually, Christ and the Spirit will deliver us. How can we boast or hold fast? By prayer. We have no external resources, only prayer.
am praying that Chinese Christians who are currently experiencing suffering will follow Jesus’s example laid out in Hebrews 12:2: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” In this life we will have troubles. But that is not the end of the story. Joy comes in the morning, and Christ has overcome this world of sin and death.
In the midst of hardship, the enemy’s slander against David is that God is not pleased with him…This is similar to slander we encounter: God is not pleased with you; you suffer because of sin, not righteousness; you are under God’s discipline; the house church is being persecuted so heavily today because of your faults!
Jesus also experienced the things this psalmist went through. Before the world hated us, it hated Jesus. Because of his zeal for God’s house and his love for God’s people, Jesus took our reproach and went to the cross. He tasted sour wine, and gave up his life for sinners like us. When the waters came up to our necks, Jesus had already sunk to the bottom – all so he could lift us up.
In a time of widespread dissatisfaction, Christians have solid hope. All believers, in both good times and disastrous ones, share in this hope. When the lives and words of believers show that God exists and speaks to the real pain and anger that many are experiencing, people pay attention.
In faith, the psalmist called God’s people to enter God’s presence and praise the Lord. Only those who are in Christ can walk through the open “gates” and “courts” of God’s house. And God’s goodness is revealed as mercy only to those who are in Christ.
We do not worship out of our own ability, interest, or mood. Instead, we are under God’s care. His hand has always been a mighty hand of salvation. Worship is based on our redemptive, covenantal relationship with him.
I come before you to offer up a prayer for the church in China. In the midst of the double hardship of persecution and isolation, protect our gatherings in your presence. Forgive us our sins: our apathy toward you, our lust for worldly benefits, our compromises with the world, even our pursuit of the values of this world…In this hour of darkness, lead your church to gather before your throne of grace.
I am praying Chinese Christians will hold fast to the truth of God’s great love for them. As they boldly go forward to plant more churches and share Christ with unbelieving neighbors, may they rest securely in the arms of a Savior who will never leave them alone. May they hold fast to the good news that God loves them, and his kingdom is an eternal one, which no earthly power can ever shake.
The harmonious cohabitation of brothers has to do with the heart of God. His blessing brings true union…All goodness comes from above. Without the renewal of God’s grace, there is no good. That is why this psalms keeps talking of descent: we can only have life and blessing if we are reconnected to God.
O you who have awakened, you will see God’s grace rain down. In the wilderness and in the valley, the earth will grow green. The sheep will graze in the pastures, and all things will shout and sing for joy.
In the face of both increasing pressure, and of the pandemic-induced economic collapse, some have neglected to gather together. For some, this is so they can make ends meet, while others face pressure. We continue to rely on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and we continue to hold on to weekly worship.