Updated: May 18, 2022
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Peter was one of my family’s best, most loyal, friends over the years. He was always joyful and enthusiastic about anything that involved fellowship and Jesus. His accent had a calming effect on me and I never figured out why. He was born and partially raised in Latvia until his family was forced from their homeland by the Stalin regime in the 1940s. Before they escaped the country, some horrible things took place. One of those events still comes to my mind often as he related it to me:
Peter’s grandfather was a pastor/evangelist who in decades past had enjoyed the freedom of preaching the gospel to his fellow countrymen. Under Stalin, that had changed drastically. Confiscation and destruction of religious materials, persecution and sometimes murder were the order of the day. Peter recalls the day his grandpa was buried… alive… by Stalin’s henchmen. His family was forced to watch. It is no surprise to me that Peter’s most vivid memory from that day was his grandpa's voice as he was being covered with dirt under a canvas. He was preaching the gospel to his murderers, praising God with a song, and thanking Jesus for eternal life.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5
Daily Battle Order:
God will not require most of us to suffer and die a horrible death. We most likely won’t even have to be made uncomfortable when called upon to take a stand in His behalf. Although times are changing rapidly, and we may soon experience persecution for taking a stand for the Lord. Our challenge today and every day is to be willing to praise God in the face of whatever battles we encounter, be they easy or hard. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the life you are privileged to live, and for the willingness to lift up the name of Jesus in any circumstance.