“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
Editor’s Note: In Malaysia, Christians ministering to the local community are often targets of the government and extremist groups because the act of leaving the local religion to follow Jesus is illegal. Susanna Koh and her family, as well as thousands of other Malay believers, know this persecution firsthand.
In so many ways, I identify with Ruth from the Bible. Like Ruth with her Boaz, I also have a Kinsman-Redeemer. In the absence of my husband, it is God who has done everything for me.
I can honestly say God alone is the restorer of my life and soul. And just like He did for Ruth, He continues to show me He has a future and plan for my life — even in the midst of my fears and brokenness.
For the last 5 1/2 years, I haven’t seen or heard from my husband, Raymond. On February 13, 2017, in broad daylight, he was abducted with military-like precision. It took only 40 seconds. Raymond was a pastor, and when he disappeared, he and our family were leading a ministry to the unreached community. The investigation into his disappearance has now revealed that the police were involved in his abduction.
I could never have imagined a nightmare like this. Often, people ask me how I can continue on with no answers or glimmer of hope about Raymond. I’ve thought a lot about that, and I’ve come to realize the impact of being intentional to connect with Jesus every day. Fear is real and can be extremely powerful. It is a daily battle, and each day I have to put on the armor of God. (Ephesians 6) We all do.
Each morning, I spend a few hours in prayer, worship and Scripture. I pray God will give me songs and scriptures throughout the day to remind me He’s sovereign over this situation and I can rest in Him. I pray for contentment — to be grateful for what God is doing in my life right now and what He will do. Gratitude centers me and reveals what’s important. So does worship. During worship, I can feel the presence of Jesus, and His presence strengthens me.
Psalm 22:3 says God dwells in the praises of His people. In our praise, God pushes back our fear and draws nearer to us. Even when things seem hopeless, praising Him through worship brings me assurance that God is present with me in my pain and fears. And He is also present with Raymond.
Still, choosing to pray and worship can be hard. It has been so long without Raymond. Sometimes I just don't know how to pray; we have prayed so many ways, so many words. In those dark moments when fear and weariness seem to be winning, God has taught me to call out to Him for His mercy. I’ve learned He is not disappointed in me when I’m afraid. He knew we would face fear. That’s why so many of His words for us address it.
Over the last 5 1/2 years, being in God’s presence and Word have given me the strength I need to push back the darkness and continue to fight for justice. God has empowered me and emboldened my faith. Before Raymond was kidnapped, I did no public speaking and was actually quite shy. Now, I speak publicly, advocating for the return of Raymond and several others who disappeared in similar ways.
Praise God that He continues to show me there’s beauty in the brokenness. 2 Corinthians 4:7 offers the imagery of us as jars of clay: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” It’s only when the jar of clay is crushed that the fragrance — Christ Himself — pours out. And it’s only when we’re broken that we can more clearly see the grace of God in our lives. I’m so thankful that He uses my brokenness to bring glory to Himself and draw me nearer to His heart.
Jesus, thank You for being present with me in my fear. Would You help me to choose You every day and to intentionally sit at Your feet? Please continue to comfort and strengthen Susanna and her family as they live without Raymond. Give them and our global family both courage to live for Your glory and peace to walk in every trial they may face for following You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Persecuted Christians like Susanna Koh ask you to pray with them to stand strong in their suffering. Will you commit to pray with them through Open Doors USA? Download the Pray for the Persecuted smartphone app to receive real-time notifications and prayer requests straight from persecuted believers.
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Susanna and Raymond have three grown children: Jonathan, Esther and Elizabeth. Susanna lives in Petaling Jaya in Western Malaysia where she continues to fight for justice for her husband. At the same time, God is using Susanna to minister to women around the world. If you’d like to write to her, you can send messages of encouragement to her at:
PO Box 107, Lot LG1098
One Utama Shopping Center
No. 1, Lebuh Utama
47800 Petaling Jaya
Learn more from Susanna and other persecuted Christians at OpenDoorsUSA.org.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)
What are the fears you’re struggling with right now? Are they bringing you closer to Christ or taking you farther from Him?
What steps can you take to choose Jesus every day and intentionally seek His presence? Join us in the comments today!
© 2022 by Susanna Koh from Malaysia. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Open Doors USA for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.
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