Just last month, 21 Egyptian Christians, or Coptics, were martyred by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS came into a Libyan village with a list of names; knowing who the Copts were by the ancient tattoo on their hands. After beating them, and dragging them into vans, ISIS posted a video of their beheading. In the video, you hear the men crying out “Lord Jesus Christ,” right before being slain for no other reason than for being “people of the Cross.”
Shortly after, we hear that ISIS has captured 90 Assyrian Christians, mostly women, children and the elderly. They were seized from two villages in northeast Syria that borders Iraq to the east and Turkey to the north. Many fear that these Christians will face the same fate as the men that were beheaded—but there is still hope that the captives will be used as bargaining chips and will slowly be released.
When I read about what is happening in the world, and cry for not only my brothers and sisters in Christ, but for the countless others that been murdered at the hands of IS, I feel hopeless. I question how strong my faith is, and how my call to the cross is as simple as going to chapel three times a week. What does it mean for me to be “of the cross?” I do not face death by proclaiming Jesus as my savior; I do not fear prison, torture, or kidnapping due to my beliefs. Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, questions why God is silent when evil reigns on earth. God responds to Habakkuk, “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” God’s answer is not satisfactory to Habakkuk, but Habakkuk comes to realize God’s authority in all circumstances.
I realize that God is in full control, and he is sovereign for eternity—whether in the times of Habakkuk, or in the 21st century. As a college student in the United States, my call to the cross is simple, but necessary.
To pray to the almighty God to reveal himself in the evil and injustice that permeates our world. To rejoice in the good things that he does, and take heart in the fact that those men will receive their full reward from the King. Although I pray that justice can be realized now, I know that this is a temporary home, and full and complete justice will be done in the new creation.
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior,” proclaims Habakkuk in the end of the book. A brother of one of the Coptics martyred embodied this statement by saying, “we are proud that they went to the Father in the sky.” To see the faithfulness of not only the martyred, but also the loved ones they left behind is an encouragement to those of us whose faith does not come at such a high price. Throughout this horrific tragedy, their families are still rejoicing, choosing to look beyond this world into the next one, where they know they will be reunited with their loved ones.
In the face of horrific injustice, it is our duty to speak for those who do not have a voice, to question how our government is combatting evil, to realize the fallen nature of our world instead of closing our eyes to it, and to pray. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It may seem hopeless, and my prayers may feel fruitless, but I believe that it is my call to the cross.
-Analise Nuxoll is a junior political science major at Westmont College. Her dreams in life revolve around family, social justice, and making it to law school without losing her sanity.
Photo: Families of the slain 27 Egyptian Coptic Christians hold photos of their loved ones. Courtesy of RNS.