At one time or another we all have questions about why things happen the way they do. And if we’re honest, even we as Christians are sometimes prone to ask, “Why God?” when our plans and dreams crumble before our eyes. And although I have dealt with the disappointment of shattered hopes, I have never had my life threatened because of my faith in Jesus Christ. Nor, have I had to live through the nightmare of seeing my husband snatched away from my small children and imprisoned because of his faith in Christ.
This past week I had the privilege of listening to the amazing testimony of a woman who has lived through and is living through those very things. Pastor Saaed Abedini has been held captive in an Iranian prison for over two years because he refuses to deny Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I was challenged, encouraged, convicted, and moved in the depths of my heart as I listened to Naghmeh Abedini share how God has upheld, strengthened, and worked in her and her husband during this unimaginable trial. I think the thing that most stirred my heart was when she read the letter Saeed wrote to their daughter, Rebekka Grace, for her eighth birthday. Understandably, Rebbeka has questions…”Why hasn’t the Lord brought her beloved daddy back to her?”, “Why hasn’t God answered the prayers of thousands of Christians by having her dad released and returned to the United States?” Her wise and loving father had some good biblical answers for her….answers that are easy to give when we’re explaining to our children why they are not as popular in school as they would like to be, or why they can’t have the coveted thing that everyone else is enjoying, or even when their favorite pet has died. But, giving the same answers when you’re living with the daily reality of very real persecution, when you’re separated from your wife and your small children because of your faith, and when you know that you could face death at any time, is on an entirely different plane. You only answer your eight year old child the way Saeed did if you have spent many, many hours with God, and the words of II Corinthians 12:9-10 have become a reality in your soul. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I realize that this is a somewhat lengthy letter, but I assure you it will be well worth the time it takes to read it. For those of you who accept the challenge to read it in its entirety, I sincerely hope you will be as blessed by the content of this remarkable letter, as I have been.
My Dearest Rebekka Grace,
HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY!
You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day. I praise
God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through
the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing
both spiritually and physically.
Oh how I long to see you.
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return
and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY in your mind you are
asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all
the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home
with you and our family.
The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is in control? The LORD JESUS
CHRIST is in control.
I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times.
Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the
WHY is WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all this happened?” and
“WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding
WHO is in control…LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD!
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in
it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our
good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He
is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world.
People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some
may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It
is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified
through our lives…
I want you to read the book of Habakkuk. He had the same question as
you. But see that the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:3, “the vision
comes and doesn’t delay on time, wait for it.” Mommy and I always had
big desires to serve Jesus and had great vision to be used for His Kingdom
and for His Glory. So today we pay a cost because God who created us,
called us to that.
And so I want you to know that the answer to all your prayers is that God
is in control, and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives
and all around the world.
Therefore declare as Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshack, and
Abed-Nego did in Daniel 3:17-18!
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from
the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your
gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
And learn and declare as Habakkuk did that even if we do not get the
results that we are looking for, God is still good and we WILL praise
His holy name.
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in
the stalls- 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my
salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like
deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Then my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring
me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together as Habakkuk
did HALLELUJAH, either separated by prison walls or together at home.
So, let daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way
here in prison!
I am so proud of you my sweet courageous daughter. Glory to God
Kisses and Blessings,
Dear friends, I trust that this will be an encouragement to you next time things don’t work out as you had planned. The next time we face a difficult trial, an unexpected crisis or a set of very painful circumstances may the Lord in His mercy help us to remember Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, and Habakkuk. And may the weighty words of Pastor Saeed Abedini ring loud and clear in our ears, “the answer to the WHY is WHO”.