Several times in the Bible, Christians who are not in difficulty are to invited to pray for their Christian brothers and sisters who are in difficulty. One of the results of this is that they vicariously endure suffering. They are more able to clearly understand and relate to the realities of following Jesus at any cost...even when they live in a "safe" environment. (Hebrews 13:3 actually says that we should remember our Christian brothers and sisters "as though in prison with them"). Well, that is the situation we find ourselves in today, regarding our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq. Atrocities are happening there and have been happening there for several weeks. (Last week, our President addressed those realities and offered help from the United States to help protect all those who are in danger. I am thankful for that.)
But, I do not own any jets or bombs. And I do not have an army of soldiers at my command. I am guessing you don't either. So, what can we do? We should pray. Before you roll your eyes, let me remind you that prayer is not "doing nothing". Praying for the situation in Iraq is taking a situation that is way too big for us to the Only One who is bigger than that situation. We should pray for their safety to the Only One who can actually provide safety. But, we should also pray for more. We should pray the prayers of Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Colossians 1:9-14 and Philippians 1:9-11. We should pray that they grow deep and strong through this. We should pray that somehow God's glory shines brighter in one of the darkest (spiritual) regions of the world. And, we should pray that we are changed...that our priorities are reshaped and reordered as we vicariously suffer with our Christian family in Iraq. And we should do this in light of Hebrews 11.
See in Hebrews 11:13-16, 32-40, we read of Christians who died. And some of them died terrible deaths. They died "commended through their faith," but they left this life without receiving what was "promised" (a perfected, transformed world with God, vs. 13-16, 39). But, then we find out that all is not lost...not even close. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Because of their faith "God is not ashamed to be called their God" and their death ushers them into the city that they truly longed for, a "heavenly" city, the City of God (vs. 16). This helps us realize that death is not the end of the story. There is so much more to come for those who trust in Christ.
One last thought, this does not mean that we do not care that Christians are being killed in Iraq. We care very much and we unashamedly pray for their safety. It does mean that because of Christ's work of opening our eyes, we have a greater sense of reality. We are able to - even in deep sorrow - grasp the bigger picture. As C.S. Lewis wrote about what happens at a Christian's death: "“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it!" And that all our adventures here had only been the "cover and the title page". Finally, we begin "Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before."
Let's pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq as though we are in Iraq with them.