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The Flame of Hope!

“Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.” Proverbs 31:8 NKJV

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” Proverbs 31:8 NLT

I remember sitting in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Monday 2nd September 2019 as this verse was read out from the front. Thousands of Christians from across the island of Ireland stood shoulder to shoulder that evening as we united in prayer against the abortion law reform that was being proposed for Northern Ireland. A horrific, deadly proposal, impacting the most vulnerable in our society.

We had all seen in the year previous how the referendum in the Republic of Ireland had gone, with 66.4% of the voters wanting to overturn the abortion ban. We had also seen how a declaration had been made that, ‘the north is next’, which was something that many of us did not desire nor come into agreement with in the slightest. Instead, that night our hearts cry and desperate longing was to see these evil proposals stopped in their tracks and Northern Ireland protected from the shedding of innocent blood. We wanted the Lord of all life to hear our plea for mercy and to see these beautiful children in the womb have the purposeful life that God intended for them. We wanted life over death, blessing over cursing. We wanted victory for the glory of our God and for the benefit of those appointed to die. We wanted and needed God to move on our behalf because we knew we could not do this on our own. The battle belonged to the Lord, but we knew we needed to partner with Him in prayer. We knew all hell had broken loose in an attempt to kill the future generations and it was only the King of Glory, strong and mighty, the King of Glory, invincible in battle that could win this war, because that is exactly what it was – war!

Since that night of much expectation, the battle still continues to rage on. The war is not over yet! Yes, there have been some heavy blows that the people of God have had to endure as The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 were published and the subsequent terminations that followed. Yes, we have seen how precious lives with disabilities have been unjustifiably written off by legislators. Yes, we have seen first-hand the power of the tongue and how many people wish to speak death over this island rather than life. However, we, as God’s people, are NOT defeated! We believe in the third day victory. Our belief in our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ is evidence of this, and so we must continue to believe and fight! We must lock our shields and lift our swords and loudlyproclaim LIFE over these little ones. We must P.U.S.H. (pray until something happens) like we’ve never pushed before! We must continue to carry the flame of hope, because there are many in the heavenlies cheering us on and many that will be in the womb that hope to see the actual light some day!

When I think of all this, and the fight for life, I am always drawn to the Holocaust, the mass murder of primarily Jewish people under the Nazi regime during the Second World War. It is estimated that over six million Jews lost their lives during this time, with other people groups targeted and killed also. Of the overall figure, approximately one and a half million children lost their lives. Human brutality, at the command of the enemy, sucking the life out of even the youngest and most innocent in our world. Absolutely horrific.   

Over the years, I have read many stories of Holocaust survivors and their lives have always fascinated me. The Jewish people are a resilient people with a remarkable inbuilt strength. They are like a well rooted tree that is able to bend with the storms of life rather than break. They have an ability to hold on to hope even in the midst of unbearable, insufferable pain and traumatic experiences. In the horrors of the Holocaust, in the darkness of their souls and the world around them, these men, women and children’s faint flames, glimmering with hope, still flickered. For some the flame had extinguished and unable to rekindle the light, their bodies’ perished. Whereas for others the flame of hope, albeit small, was kept alight. It was still burning in their depths, in a place that the Nazis could not reach, in a place that the enemy could not achieve the victory. Perhaps for some the father of their faith, Abraham, was their shining example. Romans 4:18 says, “who contrary to hope, in hope believed”. Even when there was no reason for Abraham to hope, he kept on hoping because He knew His God. He knew Him to be faithful to His promises. He knew Him to be the source of all truth and hope, and so his hope remained. For others perhaps it was the thought of seeing a loved one again or maybe even having a sense of victory over their cruel commanders. Whatever the reason, their flame of hope remained. Contrary to hope, in hope they believed and life was sustained.

As we stand here now at the start of a new year, 2021, contrary to hope, do we still believe for life for these little ones? Even though the legislation has changed, even though there are children in the womb being terminated in Ireland, even though society in many ways has dehumanised the child in the womb, even though people are moving further away from the Word of God, even though all of these awful things have happened during our watch, are our flames of hope still alive? Do we still believe that God, who created them in His image, wants them to live and have a hope and a future? Do we still believe in the third day victory? Do we still believe that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16)? If we do then surely anything is possible with God!

I love that Abraham believed in the word of God and the promise became alive. I love that in the midst of what seemed so uncertain for his future that he chose to believe in the certainty of God. I love that contrary to hope, in hope he believed and he received the promise. Genesis 21:1-3 (NKJV) says,

“And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him – whom Sarah bore to him – Isaac.”

The Lord did as He said He would at the exact time He had set. Isaac, the long awaited, promised son, was born right on time. As Abraham carried the flame of hope in line with God’s word, so it paved the way for the next generation to be born. In 2021, may we, as children of God, stand together once more and believe in the God of Genesis 21. The God who brings life and remains true to His Word. May we not be weary from our warring, but rather be refreshed by the fountain of living waters. Our hope should still be as real as it was when we first believed God could do it. He still can. He has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore! The route to see these children’s lives saved might look different than what we initially expected but let’s join together and believe that in incremental stages we will still reach the same destination – life for all created in the image of God.

May we keep believing. May we keep praying. May we keep hoping in our Almighty God, the Lord of Life, and may He set our hearts on fire for the sake of the children in the womb.

Open your mouth. Speak up. Open thy mouth. We must, for their lives depend on it.

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