The third president of the United States of America was Thomas Jefferson. There were seven astronauts on the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Their names were: Christa, Gregory, Judith, Dick, Ronald, Mike and Ellison. United Airlines Flight 93 carried 40 passengers and 4 hijackers on September 11, 2001. Of the 44 people on the plane, ten passengers and two crew members were able to make phone calls for help and to say good-bye. One passenger's name was Tom Burnett, he called his wife a few times to let her know what was happening. Flight attendants were named, CeeCee, Debbie and Sandra.
Every number has a name. Behind every number and statistic is the name of a person. That person was expected and awaited by a mother. Held in warm blankets and given a name. Every name behind a number has a story - perhaps a difficult childhood, an adventurous youth or a story of continued struggle. No one's life can be summed up by a number or by being included on a recognizeable list.
Jesus reminds us frequently how much we matter to God. In Luke 12:7 he says, "Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." God not only knows our names and who we are, He's counted the very number of hairs on our heads. Jesus says we are more important to Him than the little birds. It may be hard to believe that - especially in a time of so much violence. We stare at the news with disbelief that people could be so heartless and that the world could be so cruel - but we must remember, the violence is of the world and not of God.
Recently, there have been many reports involving numbers and statistics. In February, twenty-one Egyptian Christians were captured and beheaded. Number 14 on the list of the beheaded was Samuel Alham Wilson. I bet he toddled around his mother's feet as little boy and played in the tub during his bath. Someone delighted as he fed himself for the first time with his little thumb and forefinger reaching for food. Samuel was not just number 14 on a list of martyrs, he was a child whom God loves.
We can not be calloused by the numbers. When the numbers and statistics are reported on the news, we must remember there are lives and histories behind the numbers. If the number of hairs on our heads matters to the Lord, the names behind the numbers ought to matter to us. It is important that we remain steadfast in prayer for each individual represented, including those enacting the terror.
The numbers are always daunting. One life lost in the name of terror is too many. As the numbers increase, we numb ourselves and turn off the tv and sink into hopelessness. Before hopelessness takes over, we must remember the One life that matters most. Jesus Christ. Only one could provide the relationship with God by way of gruesome death. Only one person in all of history chose to take upon the sin and darkness of the world for ALL of mankind - for the numbers and the names behind the numbers.
Revelation 6:9-11 says: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
Prayer: Lord, we do not understand all that is happening. We pray for those killed because they believe in You. We pray for those who despise Your name. We do not even know how to pray and what to pray for. Holy Spirit, pray on our behalf. Come, Lord Jesus.