Rasha was living with "terror on every side."
After seven years of war, her city had been targeted for intense and ongoing attack. There were seven weeks of nonstop bombings. Chemical warfare; children gasping for air and dying in their mothers' arms. When her city still didn't fall, they set up siege: no more access to food or water. More than this — no one could come in, and no one could leave.
David describes living under siege in these pain-wracked words:
My eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
Rasha began to pray that she, her husband, and her four children would die soon so that their suffering would end.
Rasha's sister, Amina, had fled Eastern Ghouta some time before.
While living in a neighboring Islamic country, she came into contact with Erin, a follower of Jesus who had recently joined Embassy.
One day, Amina wrote to cancel their weekly online "tea." Her aunt and three cousins had just died in a bombing.
Words started to pour out. She told Erin about her sister, praying that she would die.
Erin asked Amina if she would pray with her in the name of Jesus. She explained that in our holy book, Jesus said that where even two are gathered in his name, he is there.
Erin writes, "She agreed, and we prayed in confidence that the Lord Jesus was in our midst as he said he would be. For her sister, I prayed that like Hagar, she would be sure that God sees her. I prayed that he would miraculously provide for their sustenance, like manna in the wilderness and like the widow that Elijah met, whose oil and flour did not run out. I prayed that like when Daniel’s friends were in the fiery furnace, that Jesus’ presence would be physically felt, because he is the God of all comfort."
Almost immediately after, Rasha sent a text to Amina. She wrote to say that she was not afraid. She felt peace; she felt hope. And she ended by including the phrase, "GOD WITH US."
This woman who prayed for the death of her children knew that God was with her — immediately after this faith-prayer in the name of Jesus.
Eastern Ghouta was her furnace; and Christ was there.
Erin writes, "That phrase, it clicked in my mind. I flipped quickly to Matthew 1:23. The way she had written it matched the translation of Gabriel's quote of Isaiah: 'They will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')."
"I sent the verse to my friend in English and Arabic — I was so excited to hear this report from her sister! But even more, what a JOY to be able to say, 'This is Jesus, our Immanuel!! He is with us, he hears our cries and responds! He himself is our peace — greater that the human mind can comprehend.'"
Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
Editor’s note: Rasha and her family are now living safely outside of Eastern Ghouta.