Ode to a Persecuted and Outcast Mother

I don't think I am alone when confessing that I have some mixed feelings about facing the challenges I see lying in my path for 2018! Years ago, I felt overwhelmed by the role of parenting three small children in our family home. The time was filled with joy and blessing; but, if I'm honest, also with a fair smattering of doubt, exhaustion, occasional resentment and, on a few occasions, even despair.

My children now being much older, I push back the temptation to feel overwhelmed by the pressures of balancing family roles, and a full list of tasks in my place of work! Don't misunderstand me, I love my job and am thoroughly grateful for it. Yet the busyness can weigh on me if I am not careful to only carry the burdens that the Lord gives me, and to do so side by side in yoke with Him.

I wonder what burdens you may carry; what burdens those who are being persecuted for their faith carry?

While at home with my "babies," I came across the writings of Brother Lawrence (circa. 1610 - 1691). A humble man, crippled and suffering chronic sciatic pain, he worked in the kitchens of a monastery in Paris. He wrote letters to encourage a friend to ‘practise the presence of God,' as he himself was learning to do:

"We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him.... We should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being His. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will, whether He takes us through sufferings or consolations."1

Brother Lawrence's writings seemed like very good advice to me, and I still try to improve in my ability to do as he suggests. Not only did he propose this method of living life to the full -- in the peace and joy the Lord intends for all His children, no matter what their circumstances -- he also soundly based his message on the Scriptures.

Jesus tells us in John 15:4: "...abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." The Apostle Paul reminds us of this fact in many of his epistles where he encourages us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to be "constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12) and to "pray at all times in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18).

I want to remember during the many busy points of my day to turn my thoughts towards Jesus and talk with Him, asking for His help and guidance for myself and those on my heart -- a heart that will hopefully be more alert to the promptings of His Holy Spirit living within me. It is my desire to pray and act according to the good, pleasing and perfect will of the One with whom I am to walk with and work alongside -- bearing only the burdens He chooses for me, and not all those I take upon myself, nor those given by others without the authority to do so!

May we, along with our persecuted brothers and sisters, bear the fruit that Jesus intends us to bear this year as we live our lives abiding in Him and -- thanks be to God -- He abiding in us!

Jo Phillips
Executive Assistant
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada

1 Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Hodder & Stoughton, 1994)

Migrant mother