I could never imagine living through the pain and suffering that this family is going through. Youcef is a Christian pastor in Iran who two years ago was arrested because of his belief in Jesus Christ. Just recently he has been sentenced to death by hanging. This sentence can be completed at anytime. It may be tomorrow or it may be two years from now. No one knows when.
First I try to imagine being Youcef in a jail cell never knowing when the next sound will be the sound of the guard taking him out to be hanged. Does he have complete peace, ready to die, knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with his Lord? Is he like Paul in the Bible, taking every opportunity to speak with those who are keeping him? Does he ever doubt that he chose the right course and think had he only renounced his faith he could be home with his family and believing in secret? Do they torture him regularly? Does he see his Savior and receive the strength he needs moment by moment?
Then I think of his wife. Would I have the strength to be like her? Day by day she lives, yet I imagine a part of her just doesn't live. It is just there. Can she bare the loneliness she feels as she lays in bed at night? Does her heart race at every knock on her door knowing one of those knocks will be that of someone coming to tell her it is over? Does she look at her two little boys and wonder if they too will follow in their father's footsteps?
My heart aches. I know that if Youcef is hanged he has a special white robe waiting for him. I know that the Gospel will go forth. I know that God has a comfort for his wife that will cause her to be in perfect peace.
But still my heart aches. Is this what it means that we are all part of one body?
I keep Youcef's picture in my Bible so I will pray for him. But who am I?