Wednesday, April 9, 2014

North Korea and my Tuna Sandwich

Today I watched this video documentary about North Korea.

One quote has stuck with me:

"People might resist the regime with their lives if it was only themselves who might be killed. But it's not only one man being put to death, it's three generations of his family, too." 

The documentary showed people who had been in North Korean prison camps. One woman had entered the camp when she was 13 and had spent 28 years there. Another man got taken when he was 9 and spent 10 years there. In both cases, it was their grandfathers who had upset the regime, and the police took the entire family to prison.

What if we as Christians resisted the regime with our lives so that three generations of North Koreans didn't have to?

I don't mean by invading with military force. I don't mean by sneaking across the border and getting shot.

I mean by spending our lives poured out before the throne of Grace, wrestling in prayer, fasting, pleading with God to put a stop to this evil.

• • •

Another quote that broke me was about the physical hunger in the camps.

"Those who were near death looked like living corpses. This was quite common. If you still have the energy to look for food, then you are fine. But when this energy leaves you, then it becomes a problem. So there were people who lost their mind, who were just waiting for death."

Today for lunch, I opened a 5-oz can of tuna. I dumped it out on a plate and mixed in some mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, honey, olive oil, and salt, just the way I wanted it. I took out two pieces of bread, piled tuna onto the first piece, and ate it. I picked up the second piece of bread. There was still a lot of tuna on my plate. I piled forkful after forkful onto the bread, until the bread was full, and it began to pile up so generously that I knew I was going to have to open my mouth wide to eat it.

I was about to eat a whole can of tuna and two slices of bread, all by myself.

I couldn't help thinking about my brothers and sisters in North Korea, and how a meal like this would be unimaginable riches to them. The video described old men picking corn kernels out of cow's dung. "It was like dogs fighting over small scraps. That's what we'd become."

I was so burdened, I was almost sick to my stomach. Here I was, about to satisfy myself with a delicious lunch, with scarcely a thought of gratitude, when there were people to whom satisfying food is only the stuff of legend, of forgotten memory, and the difference between "fine" and "not fine" is still having the energy to look for food.

How is it that we can know about things like this that are going on, TODAY, in the world that we live in, and not pray?

What if we spent our lives for things that really mattered rather than letting the mundane work of our everyday lives swallow us up?

What if we really allowed ourselves to care about someone like a North Korean prisoner?

What if we cared enough to go to the One who is actually able to do something about it? What if we got on our faces before him? What if we wept? What if we sacrificed our sleep? What if we faithfully, persistently appeared before Him for their cause?

Is anyone doing this?

I haven't been.

I have known in my head that North Korea exists, and that it isn't exactly the best place to be, but I haven't gone any farther than that. Yes, I knew awful things were happening to people there, but I brushed it off. Surely I couldn't be expected to care about every awful thing that was happening in the world, could I? I'm not big enough for that. I have enough to worry about already.

Do I?

Or am I only using an earthly estimation of my capacity to care, to love, to bear the burden of God's heart for the needy, weak, and vulnerable?

If the living God indwells me with His Spirit, is there any limit to how much I can love, how much I can pray, how much I can spend myself?

If God holds out a burden to me, do I accept it gratefully, as if it was a present, a privilege, to carry the burden of His heart? Or do I jerk my shoulder away and reject the burden and say, "No! I'm not carrying that! Give it to someone else!"

Intercession is a mystery. How can I have any part in what the sovereign God is doing in the world? Yet if He invites me to stand in the gap, is there not a cause?

The God who designed intercession has invited me to wrestle. Shall I not accept the opportunity, rather than let doubt influence me into inactivity? All my life, I have longed to get into the fray, be part of what God is doing, be a soldier of the cross. Is the battle any less real for being waged in the heavenly realms? If anything, it is more real.

Let us not be weary.

Let us not live with our first-world tunnel vision that considers our problems of having to eat gluten free and keep up with the laundry and somehow afford to buy new tires as valid reasons to excuse us from worrying about anything else.

Let us let the love of God dwell in us.

May God show us what that looks like.

1 comment:

  1. At the Winsome retreat last weekend, our speaker on Sunday morning was addressing the topic of justice based on the verse in Micah 6:8 "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (English Standard Version) I have never done a study on justice, and was challenged to consider and realize that this is something God requires of us. Our speaker had wrestled with the challenge of making the doing of justice a part of our daily lives. Her great concern is for the victims of sex trafficking and she has begun a movement called Five-Fifteen asking for others to commit to five to fifteen minutes of prayer per day for those in that bondage. One can also decide to contribute $5-15 to organizations that are making a difference in the lives of those entrapped in that form of slavery. I believe we could also do something similar for our brothers and sisters in North Korea. One of the convicting quotes on Sunday morning was something like, "Our reaction of shock can be used as a shield or breastplate to excuse us from any real responsibility." How true. How many times do we hear of the injustices of this world, express shock or dismay, and then go about our routines without any change at all. May God forgive us and show us the role He wants us to play on a daily basis to combat the forces of evil in this world.
    Thank you so much for this thought-provoking and convicting post.


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