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Easter: Where suffering was redeemed

April 5, 2007




Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 423 | Wed 04 Apr 2007

\'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?\' (Psalm 22:1) Jesus
cried these words as he hung on the cross (Matthew 27:46). Today
words just like them are cried from prisons in Eritrea, Egypt,
China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and Pakistan where believers are
detained and tortured. They are cried from homes in war-torn Iraq;
refugee camps in Uganda, Syria, Turkey and Jordan; UN-protected
enclaves in threatened Kosovo; the inhospitable jungles of Papua;
by Christians who wonder every day if religious hatred will engulf
them and deadly terror overtake them. Traumatised, terrorised
believers frequently find themselves wondering if God has deserted
them. (Psalm 22:1-11) They need our love, encouragement, advocacy,
assistance and prayers. Please remember them this Easter.

When Jesus was betrayed by a disciple, brutalised by soldiers,
mocked and abused by the masses, falsely accused, tried in a
\'kangaroo court\' and unjustly executed, it appeared that everything
that could go wrong, did go wrong. Yet, unbeknown to all who
observed, a great battle was being waged in the invisible spiritual
realm.

Whilst Psalm 22 is known as the Psalm of the Cross, it has a
wonderful and significant progression whereby the heart-wrenching
cry of pain and suffering culminates as a song of victory. The
Psalm of the Cross is also a Psalm of Good News, a Psalm of the
Kingdom! \'All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the
Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before
him.\' (Psalm 22:27) And this is guaranteed: \'. . .for he has done
it\' (v 31); \'It is finished\' (John 19:30).

The same progression is evident in Isaiah 53-54 where the portrait
of the suffering servant who pours out his life unto death to bear
the sins of many, culminates as a call to celebrate, a declaration
of life and growth: \'Sing . . . burst into song, shout for joy . .
. Enlarge the place of the tent . . .\'

Through the blood of the Lamb shed on the cross the Church was
born. Through the witness of the saints to a fallen and hostile
world the Kingdom is growing. The Easter message is one of
redemption, not only of sinners but of suffering. And because of
this we have both peace with God and hope for the future.

OVER EASTER PLEASE PRAY -

* for God to hear the cry of his suffering children and rescue
them, deliver them, protect them, provide for them and preserve
them.

* that by the power of the Holy Spirit, God\'s persecuted children
will be enabled to show persistent courage, extraordinary peace,
enduring faith and exhilarating hope.

* for the suffering of God\'s children to be redeemed: may every
tear and every drop of blood yield fruit; may all service and
all witness be fruitful both here on earth and in the unseen
spiritual realm.

\'Therefore [on account of Christ\'s victory on the cross], my dear
brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves
fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in
the Lord is not in vain.\' (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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We suggest using the first paragraph in newssheets unable to run
the whole bulletin.

All Scripture quoted is from the NIV.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.