While we were singing, they were crying.
On Easter Sunday, halfway around the world, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded park in Lahore, Pakistan. Seventy two people died, including 24 children. Three hundred forty one were injured. A splinter group of the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility.
The attack was deliberately timed to occur on Easter. Although most of those killed and injured were Muslims, the target was the tiny Christian community in Pakistan, only 2% of the population.
This is not the first attack on the Christian community in Pakistan. In 2013, a church was bombed and 80 people died. Last year, a Christian community in Lahore was attacked, and 14 were killed. In fairness, many Muslims denounce these attacks. Muslim extremists, however, are demanding a strict interpretation of Islamic law be the rule of law in Pakistan.
I am writing about this not to lament how awful it is, though it is awful. I am not writing about this to issue a call to destroy Islam. I am not writing this to make any political statement or endorsement.
I want you to join me in a gut check – that’s why I am writing this.
Would you still call yourself a Christian if your life was threatened? Would you still come to church if there was a constant threat of being bombed? Would you still gather with your small group in the name of Jesus if you thought your neighbors would storm your gathering with guns?
I think I suffer for Jesus because everything is not just the way I like it in my life. I have no idea what it really means to suffer for Jesus. My faith has never been tested the way our brothers and sisters around the world have their faith tested each day.
I need to shed my American arrogance that wants to tell God how tough I have it, and open my eyes to a bigger world. More people will martyred for Jesus Christ this year than any other year in history. My brothers and sisters in Jesus are constantly putting themselves at risk just to follow Jesus.
These Easter bombs remind me to be profoundly grateful for my freedom. They also remind me not to long for the illusion of safety, but to follow Jesus wherever He leads. The bombs remind me to get a grip and remember my complaints about music, conveniences, preferences, and tastes are silly. What matters is the work of my Lord. Maybe if my view of what God is doing in the world got bigger, my grumpiness would get smaller, and my soul would be more like Jesus.
I pray for the people in Pakistan, for those grieving and those injured. I pray for the Taliban, because Jesus told me to pray for my enemies. And I pray that God will make me an instrument of His peace, because His peace, the peace of Easter is so desperately needed, like drops of gently rain on parched, cracked soil.