Is she happy? Not always. Truthfully, she struggles for self acceptance. The pain and rejection are still too real for her to put in the past. Where, when, and how, I sometimes wonder, is the blessing for the persecuted like her?
She was just a teen when she heard of the ‘special meetings’ taking place in her religious community. She had heard some strange and wonderful gossip about those meetings. Her curiosity as well as the spiritual void within her was growing. She just had to attend. Except she was forbidden to do so. Forbidden by her parents and forbidden by the local religious leader. A typical teenager exhibiting some form of rebellion, she decided to go.
She loved it. There was something there, she didn’t know exactly what, that made her decide to return the following evening. Perhaps it was the music, or the way the message was spoken or maybe even the strange way they prayed at the end that drew her. Whatever it was, her mind was set: she’d be back.
She was beaten that night. “How dare you!” roared her father.
Broken and bruised, yet hungry for God, she dared again the following night. She was told that if she attended the meeting, she would be disowned and kicked out of the house.
That evening, she returned home to find a locked house with no one willing to open the door for her.
The joy of a newborn spirit within was challenged by the pain of rejection. Ironically, she was adopted into the family of God the same evening she was rejected by her own family. Knocking and calling did her no good. Shivering in the dark and with tears on her face, she curled up on the ground outside her front door where she spent the night.
And the following night, and the next…
All I could do was hug her when she told me that story years later- hug her and cry with her. She knows well what it means to be persecuted. But did she feel blessed? Was she the epitome of a joyful overcomer? Not exactly.
As I talked with her awhile, I realized this: the blessing happens in those moments when she feels the supernatural arms of a loving Savior embrace her. The blessing happens the moments that remind her she is still alive and has the promise of God’s strength to lead her through another day.
The blessings are the calm in the midst of the storm she would call her life.
“From victory to victory” is not a cliche in her life. It is her life. Victory, struggle, then victory again. Mountain top, valley then mountain top again. That’s what it really means. Don’t let those Armani clad, oily haired, fake-tanned televangelists convince you they know what victory really is, no matter how nice their white fixed smile or how much they cheerlead you into believing it with their shouting or their sweaty, shaking jowls. (Sorry, got off track and nauseous all at the same time with that one!)
Back to where I was: the final blessing will come the day she steps into eternity, for great will be her reward. (Matt. 5:12). On that day, I believe the tender eyes of the radiant Son will look at her with admiration and complete love as His arms envelope her. His voice will speak acceptance and an invitation to enter into the joy promised her.
Then she will be happy, forever and always.