A couple weeks ago, I went horseback riding for the first time in nearly 10 years. My parents own a horse, and when I was younger, I’d ride pretty frequently – until one day when I fell off the horse. Getting back up was hard and, to be honest, two weeks ago was the first time I’d ridden a horse for more than a couple minutes since I’d fallen.
At first, riding was terrifying. Every step made me feel like I was going to be catapulted off or kicked. I felt every move the horse took and held my breath. I was worried the horse would stumble and fall. I was scared that, if the horse fell, I would fall with it.
It took the first 30 minutes of a one-hour trail ride for me to relax and trust that the horse was sure-footed, calm and steady. My terrible experience with horses in the past melted away, and I was able to enjoy myself and my surroundings.
In our staff chapel on Tuesday, we listened to field leader Jeremy talk about his work in Africa among Christians who had faced – and will face – persecution. Jeremy spoke of their joy amidst suffering, a joy only God can provide. He mentioned Psalm 118, which opens with the words, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
The word “steadfast” reminded me of riding that horse. Steadfast means loyal, solid, trustworthy, constant, and steady. For a while, riding the horse reminded me of the scars on my back and the terror I’d felt back then. But the steady beating of hooves on the ground and the sway of the horse slowly gave me confidence in the steadfastness of my ride. I was able to find a joy from the experience despite my history with horses.
I wonder sometimes if persecuted Christians who return to the same villages where they were beaten find peace in the steadfastness of God’s love. Do they find a joy in sharing the gospel with their persecutors despite the throbbing of scars or wounds on their bodies?
I had a hard time getting on that horse two weeks ago. The strength Christians in restricted or closed nations have to “get back on the horse” day after day astounds me. Only the steadfast love of God can keep them steady in the face of such persecution!
I pray that God will give me the strength to see His steadying hand in the midst of my trials and suffering. I pray that his steadfast love will be the first thing on my mind every morning and the last thing I think of every night.
I pray for the persecuted, who have a steadfast love for Christ and the joy that only He can provide.
Christine Young has only been working for Voice of the Martyrs for a few months, but helping ‘the least of these’ has always been a passion of hers. Christine has a Bachelors in English from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, where The Voice of the Martyrs was spoken of frequently. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and crocheting.