Hebrews 11: 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Kayla Mueller was a Christian aid worker in Syria who only wanted to save people’s lives. She was kidnapped by ISIS and held captive by their leader. They made her listen to propaganda tapes, but she refused to give up her Christian faith. She was raped repeatedly by the leader of Isis. In 2015 she was killed. You can’t imagine these things happening in the 21st century, but they do. “The world is not worthy of them,” the writer the Hebrews says.
There is a reason they are called martyrs. Martyr is the Greek word for witness. By their lives and even by their deaths, God’s people give a witness to what they believe. In ancient Rome, Christians were dragged into the arenas and they sang hymns as wild animals tore them apart. The people in the arenas trembled at what they saw. It wasn’t the beasts that made them tremble, but the hope that these Christians had in their hearts when they died.
Someday I will stand with those martyrs before the throne of God. I will see these heroes of our Christian faith who so boldly lived and died for what they believed. It seems strange that I can actually say that I will be with these brave Christian people. Yet, I can say it because I know that I am righteous by faith alone. I pray that my life will always reflect what I believe and that I will be a martyr, too, a witness to my Christian faith. Prayer: Father, I know that I am your dear child, righteous by faith in Jesus, clothed with Christ in my baptism. As I finish this chapter on the heroes of faith, I pray that you will make me a martyr, too, a witness to what I believe, so that in all that I do, either in life or in death, I will give you the glory you deserve. Amen.