Posted by George Morrison

Good Grief                       Word on the Week                    12th September 2020.

The title of today’s blog was immortalised for those of a certain age in Charles Schulz’s character Charlie Brown.   Charlie featured in the cartoon ‘Peanuts’ and the expression ‘Good Grief’ expressed his frustration at being continually upstaged by his companions and life in general.

The ‘good grief’ we learned about today at the Church in Chains webinar was of a different order.   It was emphasised by Jesus during his last week before the Cross, ‘Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy’ (St John Chapter 16 verse 22).

This grief is being experienced in many parts of the world but no-where more single-mindedly than Pakistan.   Imtiaz Ashraf is from Pakistan and was the speaker today.   He spoke of Zafar Bhatti, a Christian, who has spent the last 7 years in Rawalpindi prison where he is serving a life sentence.  

He was found guilty of breaking the blasphemy law by sending blasphemous text messages on his smart phone.   The fact that the phone was not registered in his name and did not belong to him was dismissed by the corrupt judge.   His appeals against his sentence have been adjourned repeatedly.   A verdict of not guilty by the appeal judge would place the judge’s life in danger. Indeed, such is the level of hatred that if Zafar was released he would have to go into hiding and eventually get out of the country for fear of his life.

Jesus said, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first   If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.… But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason’ (St John Chapter 15 verses 18 to 25 & Psalm 35 verse 19).

Imagine your teenage daughter was abducted and you knew only too well why she had been taken.   Your loss would be compounded by the fact that she would be married to a Muslim and forced to convert to that religion.   The law is not on your side.   You don’t know where she is.

This is not an isolated case.   Grief for being a Christian.  ‘Good grief’ because it comes from following Jesus (1 St Peter chapter 1 verse 6).    

What are we supposed to do about it?   Perhaps follow the writer of Hebrews suggestion: – ‘Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Chapter 13 verse 3).

And if we really want to share in their grief get information from www.churchinchains.ie    Just as there is grief so too there will be joy!