Help my unbelief

Last week 2 young women from a partner congregation to our church in Pakistan were abducted by members of the Taliban.  Their abductors tortured and raped the girls, and sent videos of these events to our national pastor, demanding ransom be paid within 5 days or they would be killed.  The video included clips of them being commanded to recant their recent conversion to Christianity and to recite Muslim prayers.  They refused, and were tortured in unspeakable ways.

Today I received word that the young women had been released in exchange for the ransom money, and they were now reunited with their parents.

Over the past few days hundreds of people have been praying for their release and for the safety of our national pastor as he helped secure their release.  And now that word is spreading, people are thanking God for helping the girls be released and "miraculously" working on their behalf.

But I am having a hard time celebrating.

I didn't see the videos myself, but they were described to me.  I literally felt like vomiting after I read the description.  My struggle today is trying to figure out why a God who loves these young women so much would only "miraculously" act on their behalf through the paying of ransom and waiting through 5 days of abuse.  I fear that the ransom payment will only increase the likelihood that this horrid scenario will be repeated in the near future.  

But this is nothing new.  Such atrocities have been committed down a long, unbroken string of years since Stephen was stoned to death for preaching that Jesus was the risen Messiah in the first century.  This is simply the closest I've ever been to it.  Perhaps in time I will hear the story of how God did intervene on their behalf to save their lives, or to bring supernatural comfort and strength and courage when they needed it.  I've heard such stories before.  But for now I feel deflated, with my faith in God's protection being severely tested. 

Again this is nothing new.  I've read and even preached on how long the Israelites had to wait (multiple GENERATIONS) for God to deliver them from slavery in Egypt.  When God finally calls Moses, He tells him that he has indeed heard their cries and seen their misery.  It's as if he wanted to act, but for some reason couldn't.  For a few hundred years.  

And so we down here on earth are left to trust somehow in the goodness of God, even when He allows the bad guys to win so many times and his servants can be victimized not just despite their faith in Him, but because of it.

So today, I pray along with the father of the possessed boy in Luke 9:24:  "I believe.  Help my unbelief." 

NOTE 2/25/17: It was discovered a year later that this whole scenario was faked in order to get the church to raise money for a ransom and for other expenses.  We were the victims of fraud in this case, but the feelings felt and the ideas shared about this are still authentic.

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