I once wrote about Psalms 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Perhaps too optimistically, I wrote when I get to heaven, the table will be set but no enemies will be present. How wrong I am for thinking naively.
I know persecution. The kind that comes from having enemies. Enemies with the sole purpose of destroying me. They do not understand or know forgiveness. Or at least not from their perspective. Matthew 15:11 tells us, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
I don’t know that I am persecuted for Jesus name, but I do know constant threat. I know the anxious feeling each time I go to the mailbox, or receive a phone call or email from my attorney stating the latest in my oppression. I know the feeling of anticipation that comes from looking over my shoulder to see what may be behind me.
It is difficult for anyone who has never experienced this weekly deluge of mistreatment to comprehend it. It is difficult for a person whose life flows easily from one good moment to the next to understand the force that puts itself against me. It would be hard for someone looking from the outside of our closely knit family unit to understand the looks we give each other at certain times of the day or week. Persecution for Christ's name sake takes its toll on us in ways that some people will never fully comprehend.
“Why” they may ask, “can’t we get on with our lives?” We do. We move through our days with the grace of a forgiving God. We move through our days with the hope of resurrection into new life - life free from turmoil, chaos and panic. But the chains are present in the scars on our hearts and in our thoughts. Jesus said, “I have said this to you, so that you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:33.
Yes, I will sit at a table with my enemies. God will anoint my head with oil. My cup will run over. I will be remade from the shattered pieces of a broken soul into a beautiful, new mosaic. I am blessed.