December 14, 2022
When Crisis Brings Joy
FERIAL FROM SYRIA
Lee en español
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
Editor’s note: Although Syria isn’t in the news anymore and cameras are focused on other parts of the world, the suffering of the Syrian people continues. Syria’s decade-long civil war continues. For Ferial Jamil Labbad, a Christian wife and mother of two in Latakia, Syria, the horrors of war almost tore her family apart.
When war in Syria broke out in 2011, we were living in Aleppo in an area that was badly hit. We lived so close to the militia groups. My children were young then, and I lived in fear, afraid for them. When planes would fly over our house, my husband and I would take the children out of bed and hide in the bathroom.
Even simple tasks were risky. I remember one day when my husband, Ghandi, and the children went to the market. On their way back, there was a lot of shooting — even shooting at them. They started running; my children were crying. It was only the protection of God that allowed them to return home safely.
Finally, my husband had to leave to find work so we could afford to live. He had friends living in the Latakia countryside about three hours from us. We left Aleppo crying, especially the children — because they loved the house. We brought only some clothes with us, thinking we would be back soon.
That was eight years ago.
The first few months in Latakia were so hard and different. I fought with my husband and cried every night, thinking about everything we had left. Here, we have one small shared bedroom and a living room. We don’t have much food and get by on rice and lentils. And we have electricity for only 30 minutes three times a day.
But my husband reminded me time after time that we had fled to protect our children from the war. For the first time in what seemed like years, I felt my kids were safe here. I started to thank God that we had taken the right step, as hard as it was, and I began to have more peace. Gratitude has become a daily practice.
We have grown in our love for Jesus here. I have realized the importance of being part of a local church body. The church we found has motivated me to love Jesus even more than I used to. And finding this community helped ease the pain of leaving our home. I’m not concerned with Aleppo or our financial situation anymore. Instead, I feel different — closer to the pattern of Jesus. God is alive in us. He is with us, taking care of us, nurturing us.
I feel just as Paul did when he said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).
And I have grown through a discipleship group of women who study the Bible together and share about our lives with each other. Through this group, I have learned to open the Bible, read it and live it. Even as tiny as my house is, I love opening my home to this group to meet.
The situation in Syria is still very desperate, and we still have little. Prices continue to rise each day; no matter how much we work, we are not able to earn enough to buy the food we need. But I have learned that even if we have nothing, we can try to help those who are in worse conditions. Every morning I pray, Even if I have nothing, Jesus, I want to give something.
There is hope for our future. Even amid crises, I feel inner peace because I know that Jesus will never leave us.
Jesus, thank You that whatever crisis I face, Your Word promises You will never leave me — a promise I can always rely on no matter how hard things are. Thank You that my joy comes from knowing and trusting You — not from my circumstances. Help me to make gratitude a daily practice. Even if I have nothing, I want to give something. Please strengthen Ferial and her family and continue to bring Your peace as they follow and serve You. And be ever present with my sisters and brothers throughout the world as they struggle in life yet take every opportunity to testify of Your goodness and power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Persecuted Christians like Ferial 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 new Open Doors Prayer App to receive real-time notifications and prayer requests straight from persecuted believers. You can also download Open Doors’ 52-week prayer guide and pray with believers like Ferial in the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians.
Ferial lives with her husband, Ghandi, and their two children, Anna Maria and Ohannes, in Latakia, in the northwestern region of Syria. They are very active in their church, where Ferial works as a schoolteacher. Open Doors USA is publishing this devotion on Ferial’s behalf to share her story of how God has worked in her as she faced crisis after crisis. Learn more from Ferial and other persecuted Christians at OpenDoorsUSA.org.
James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
Are you struggling to be content or find joy right now?
What daily practices can help you begin to turn your focus to Jesus and His great love for you? Join us in the comments today.
© 2022 by Ferial from Syria. All rights reserved.
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