Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
When I got my new job, I had to switch the church service I attended. For the longest time, I was a solid second service girl. Enough time to sleep in, make it to Sunday school (on a good morning) and then service. As long as the preacher didn't go too long, breakfast was just wearing off by the end of the sermon, making you the right amount of content and hungry. At this point you were happy and content enough to pay attention and talk to other congregation members, but hungry enough to not forget the time. If you had kids under ten, there was no way you would forget that lunch needed to happen soon after the final "Amen."
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
I was sure the thing I would miss the most (besides all the sleep) was the music from second service. Second service was for the young, hip kids (and kids at heart) who liked drums and a good bass line. We sang songs that you stood for, clapped hands for, raised hands for and sometimes, even cried over. This was the service that gave you permission to talk to God in a language void of words like "bulwark" and "fortress."
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
So when I found myself crying over the hymn, Faith of our Fathers, it surprised me. Not a bad thing or a wrong thing, just a surprising thing. I started singing this hymn and I got through the first verse just fine. The problem came when I tried to sing the verse.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
The words stopped in my throat. In spite of dungeon, fire and sword. The children in the Middle East who were currently experiencing the "sword" part of that verse jarred me out of my easy Sunday morning routine. I started praying.
Lord how is this happening? How do things like this pass your desk? What do these children know about sacrifice? I know you are in control of all things and allow things to happen for reasons I will never understand, but how is this happening?
The faces of children I knew in my church who had recently professed faith came to mind. I couldn't help it. This is where I lost it. I was standing there in the middle of the church, hymnal hugged to my chest, weeping over the faith of children everywhere. I wept for their families. I wept for the sacrifice. I wept at the loss. I trusted God to turn my tears into prayers and encouragements for the families mourning the loss of their children. I surely could not do it justice.
How do you cope when Faith of our Fathers leads to the beheading of children?
I wanted to be angry at God. I wanted to rail at Him for allowing … what? People to choose faith above life? To test them on it?
This is something I can do every day. I live in a country that allows me to choose my faith and worship freely. I forget that other countries and other Christians around the world do not have that luxury.
If some of this feels disjointed, it is because I don't have answers to these questions. I don't have political statements or solutions.
I just know that my heart is breaking for the children and the families that are literally choosing to be true to Christ until death.