“The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.” (Reference: Psalms 34:16-22 )
After spending a third of a year hearing scripture from a Historic Anabaptist perspective, I am imaging you can guess with little effort as to how they viewed verses such as this. Hendrick Verstralen wrote to his wife in 1571, “Hearken, my wife, my dearest love on earth, follow my advice for the Lord’s sake; go and sell all that you can spare, which is little, and live as plainly as possible, for a widow can get along with very little . . . The Lord shall care for you; He who gives the wild ass his food in the wilderness, when he cries for thirst, and who feeds the young ravens that cry unto God, as David says (Ps. 147:9), will also feed you, my dear lamb, when you, my widow, my chosen lamb, shall with my young orphans cry to God. Though your tears fall here upon earth, they shall not cease until they penetrate the clouds and appear before God. Then shall you find consolation, as David says: “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles; yea, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him from the heart.”
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible classified them as words of consolation. It takes a particular heart and spirit to hear these words and find encouragement in them. In essence it says, “This is your lot in life now my dear. God says the Lord will provide for you. At least I hope this is true.” I do not say these things because I believe that the sacrifices the historic Anabaptists made for the sake of their faith were folly or foolish. I believe just as strongly as they, and as God gives me strength would stand by my faith. But the “righteous” that is applied to here may not be as evident as we would like or wish. And many times it is only by looking back to see what you have gone through that you realize God was there. Those who have gone on to the life after this may not realize that it can be harder for those that are left behind then those who have gone ahead imagined. (That is an awkward sentence – I hope you know what I mean.)
Put more simply beloved – those who sacrifice all they have for their faith commend those left behind to God. So I pray both for those who have become martyrs, but also for those whose loved ones have been martyred. Their road inevitably becomes the toughest road. May all the promises that the writer of Psalms speaks of become manifest a thousandfold. Selah!