Have you heard the term “first world problem?” It refers to the annoyances and “problems” we have because of our wealth and possessions. These are “problems” many people in the developing nations would be happy to have. An example of a first world problem would be not being able to find a matching chair for a new sofa, a restaurant running out of your favorite dessert or having too many options to choose from at the supermarket.
As I go about my day, my internal monologue often has to do with complaining about my perceived problems. “Why do I have to do this task?” or “Why is xyz so stressful for me?” I caught myself at it again the other day. I don’t even remember what I was complaining about now. As my inward self heard the complaints, suddenly an image of our Pakistani brothers and sisters came to mind, and I felt guilty.
Many Christians in Pakistan are poor. They live in one- or two-room houses, use an outhouse or a field for a bathroom, and wash their few dishes in a plastic tub. But their biggest disadvantage in life isn’t the poverty, it’s the difficulty they face because they have chosen to follow Christ.
Martha Bibi is a Christian woman in Pakistan who is currently on trial, accused of blasphemy. Another Christian woman in Pakistan, Asia Bibi, was given a death sentence for blasphemy, so this is a serious charge. Martha was accused after some men rented business equipment from her husband and then refused to pay or return the equipment. Because the family is Christian, the Muslim men thought they could take advantage of them.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws make it easy. Anyone can accuse someone of blasphemy, and the testimony of one or two Muslim witness is enough to convict. Nearly every time, these laws are used against Christians. As a Christian, Martha has very few people to help her and fewer still to stand up for her against a court system and a government that cater to the Muslim majority. That is a real problem.
Knowing about our brothers and sisters around the world shouldn’t make us feel guilty. It should make us act. After listening to the complaining voice in my mind for a while, I decided I was going to fight back. I decided that every time I hear get frustrated by the minor details in my life, I’m going to start praying for my persecuted brothers and sisters. It will only take a few seconds of my time, and it will be a built-in reminder to “pray without ceasing.”
I predict I’m going to be praying a lot more.
Will you join me? It’s easy to pray knowledgeably for persecuted Christians— the VOM newsletter, our blog, website, twitter and facebook page are constantly filled with news and prayer requests.
It just may be that prayer is the answer to changing our first world attitude.