Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sima's Stronghold

“Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” John 9: 2

Sima and I were having our weekly Bible study time. She is a new believer. The story was about Lazarus being raised from the dead. Sima found the story incredibly exciting. She was amazed that Lazarus was sick and Jesus raised him from the dead because in her understanding being sick meant he had done something sinful and was being punished. It didn’t make sense to her that he would be raised from the dead. “Last week I cried and cried. I had bad dreams. Everyone thinks I’m bad. Even Jamila told me that I must have sinned,” Sima explained to me looking very dejected. “Because you can't walk well?” I inquired. “Yes, everyone thinks I have been bad,” she replied. “I think about this all the time and feel very sad.”  In reality most of her comments were not based on fact but on her own conclusions such as the time when she concluded that the people sitting on the balcony opposite her apartment were always thinking that when they saw her she must have done something bad. She dreaded the sight of that couple, even though a word had never been exchanged between them.

By this time I realized her view of sickness was not only typical and common among Muslims but indeed a very gripping stronghold in her life. She could not break through this view no matter how hard she tried. Satan had successfully made her a victim of his lies and deception. I had gone over this same issue numerous times but nothing was budging. It was like she was in a locked cage and needed to be set free from this bondage of self-inflicted condemnation.

I know numerous Muslim women who have received the news that they have cancer. Often they don’t want anyone to know and sometimes isolate themselves. They are terrified of others thinking they are being punished by Allah because of some secret sin. Jamal and Karima's daughter got cancer. Karima poured out her fear of being punished by Allah for something but she just could not think of what she would have done to see her beloved daughter get sick. "It's an examination from Allah," she said, trying to convince herself of that. "Life is all about an examination; whether we will pass the test of not," she added. For the next year of constant hospital visits and chemo treatments they stayed away from other Muslims.

It is a vicious stronghold in many Muslims' lives which has been passed on from generation to generation. The stronghold will not lose its grip easily. It needs to be demolished so that they can live in hope, joy and peace and not cower under condemnation, accusation, guilt and shame. They find great comfort and hope when they hear Bible stories of people who were sick and Jesus brought glory from their sickness. The story of Job(Ayuub) often brings them comfort and helps change their way of thinking. We should not fool ourselves though. This is not just a cultural way of looking at things. It is a stronghold. We want them to be set free and thrive. Sima is on the way to finding freedom. She will be set free totally when the stronghold of condemnation and accusation are brought down by the mighty name of Jesus and she speaks truth to herself which is found in the Word of God.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You have the power to destroy these awful strongholds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.