Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10
Christmas is a time of peace and joy for those who are fortunate enough to celebrate the birth of their Saviour in freedom. For Marko and his two fellow believers it was the fifteenth Christmas that they had to celebrate behind the bars of a prison cell in a Muslim country.
The next day some colleagues felt they had to visit Marko and his friends as an encouragement and confirm to them once again the love of Immanuel—God with us.
Even though they often heard the saying that a prison cell in the Middle East is the closest to hell that you will experience on earth, nothing prepared them for the sense of hopelessness that they experienced in that waiting room of despair.
As the prisoners entered, it was not difficult to recognize Marko and his two friends. Beaming eyes and smiling faces immediately assured them Marko and friends knew they had not been separated from the love of God.
Tears flowed freely as they shared how lonely they were on Christmas day and how joyful they were to know that they were not forgotten.
“It was so difficult yesterday.” Marko spoke softly. “Apart from being Christian prisoners in a Muslim prison, it was also a fast day of Ramadan. We were not allowed out of our cells and we were not allowed to talk to anyone. Fortunately, a week ago the three of us got hold of pieces of a cake and we hid them underneath our cushions especially for Christmas day. Yesterday, when the fast was broken, we simply walked to one another, held the slices of cake together and said “Merry Christmas!”
The visiting hour flew past and soon it was time to say goodbye. Before being marched back to his prison cell, we looked at Marko and asked him a final question. “What are you going to do when you get to your cell and are once again all alone?
Marko smiled and answered, “I will simply spread the wings of my spirit and fly to Jesus.”
RESPONSE: Today I will seek to understand the biblical principle that suffering makes our lives more holy.
PRAYER: Lord, help me, like Marko, to keep my eyes fixed on You regardless of my circumstances.