Miriam*, a widow in northern India, is in her early 70s. Her late husband Benjamin* was one of the first missionaries Harvest Bridge began supporting, nearly 10 years ago. After a life well lived, Benjamin passed away suddenly three years ago. Even in her grief, Miriam has continued her husband’s ministry.
Already looked down upon for being poor and a Christian, Miriam became all the more ostracized in a society that regularly dehumanizes widows. Not only did society push her away, but, her extended family rejected her, discouraging her from ministry.
When I was with her earlier this year, she was very honest about the hardship and pain she has experienced while grieving the loss of Benjamin. As we held hands in prayer, crying together, the words of Hebrews 4:14-16 came to mind, as they often do in times like this:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
As her sister in Christ, I could offer love and sympathy to Miriam, but never could I or anyone else truly step into her shoes and fully bear that burden with her.
But Jesus, our great High Priest, can.
Who else could enter and heal this brokenness better? Who else, other than our God who, for a time, walked on earth, fully human and fully God?
Jesus, who was not only tempted by Satan himself and then separated from God while on the cross, but who was also rejected by much of his family, hated by many, grew up in poverty in a disrespected town, and died a brutally painful and humiliating death.
Jesus, who while being human, was also fully God, and so was able to see into the depth of sin and pain in the lives of those around Him.
Jesus, who can sympathize with our weakness and welcomes us to come to Him boldly.
That is the God we pray to, the God that Miriam was able to cry out to when no one else could understand her pain. This is who all of our national missionaries and followers of Jesus around the world cry out to. When they too are rejected by family for their faith, when they are physically stoned because of sharing the Gospel, when they do not know where their next meal will come from, when they are tempted to give up.
In a recent update from Miriam, she wrote,
“I am doing the ministry in remote villages…there are a lot of ups and downs, and many times I am feeling much discouragement by the situation around me. But the word of God is giving me strength to go forward with more enthusiasm, power, and courage…all my relatives left and were discouraging me to leave the ministry. But I have decided to follow Jesus till the death and do the ministry which my husband left and handed to me…God is helping me in every aspect of my life, especially in this critical situation of my husband’s death. This is my humble desire and vision that even in this situation, I want to become a great godly woman, an example for many families, and be faithful in this hard situation until the last day of my life.”
That is a perspective only possible through knowing our Lord.
This Christmas season, I am reminded that when our God came to earth as a humble baby to save us for eternity, He also became our greatest source of comfort and strength in this life.
And I am thankful that as part of the Body of Christ, you are the hands and feet of Jesus in supporting our many South Asian brothers and sisters like Miriam as they serve Him. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
Director of Mobilization
*Names changed for security