Kevin”s Conversations: Confounded by Conflict
It is difficult for me to come to any clear-cut belief as to how the turmoil should be handled because the whole thing appears to me as a complete and utter mess (stronger words than “mess” could certainly be used here, if one so chooses).
Part of my uncertainty surely comes from my lack of an intricate understanding of all the issues and circumstances. I’d likely have a better organization and definition to my thoughts if I knew all the ins and outs and specifics of the Syrian situation along with a greater command of world politics. But part of my uncertainty also comes from seeing terrible things happening where there are seemingly no good solutions and no good “side” to support.
Of course, the Syrian situation has been at the top of the news over the past week or more with the chemical attack which was blamed on the Syrian government and the retaliatory strike by the United States on the Syrian base from where it was believed the chemical attack originated. Up to this point, many Americans have wished that we would stay out of the Syrian unrest, having no desire to get bogged down in another morass in the Middle East with seemingly nebulous endings. And then we see something as terrible as the chemical attack where uninvolved people and families and women and children are subjected to terrible deaths and suffering and we wonder what we could or should do to stop such horrible things from happening.
Some are sure what our country should do and they know that the President did the right thing in striking Syria. Others are adamant that the strike was wrong and that the President is doing this only for his own gain and/or some shameful political gain for the United States. Many times these beliefs line up directly with whether or not someone is pro- or anti-Trump. Some Christians are settled in their convictions that all war is wrong and so to attack is wrong. Other Christians are resolute in their belief that since the U.S. is the biggest kid on the block, it is the nation’s duty to step in and do something to try to stop these terrible things from happening.
And, of course, there is the whole refugee issue which is tightly entangled within this whole shambles, but I’m not delving into that issue here. Nevertheless, many have their beliefs on that subject, too, as to what they believe the right thing is to do.
As for me, I’m just not sure what all the right things are or how to think in regards to Syria. Above all, my heart weeps. It weeps for all those in the chemical attack. It weeps for those caught in the cross-fire of the war and agonize over the decision of whether to try to stick it out at home or to try to escape to a possibly safer place. It weeps for those who militantly pick up the sword and believe that they must righteously wipe out the enemy while fighting for a side that is far from righteous in their means and prerogatives. And it weeps for those massacred in Egypt on Palm Sunday, as we all know that this type of evil and unrest in that part of the world extends far beyond just Syria.
Part of me feels eminently grateful that I don’t have to live under such circumstances. Yet another part of me feels guilty for feeling “blessed”, while so many other people live under such terrible conditions. That same part feels guilty for not doing more about their suffering. But then I also realize that there’s probably not much I personally can do to effect the situation and that I have not felt led by God to get seriously involved one way or another. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier when thinking on the adversity of those in Syria, and more broadly that entire part of the world.
Beyond even that, I think of other parts of the world where there is just as much tragedy and violence and suffering, yet they don’t get our attention like the Middle East or the Western world does. Places in Africa and Asia and South and Central America that we don’t hear nearly as much about because they aren’t as “important” to us. And what is my responsibility and my country’s responsibility in those places, too? If we’re concerned about suffering and trying to stop gross evil, shouldn’t we care just as much about them, too? Do we need to step in and stop all the bad guys there, too?
It can become so overwhelming. So much suffering and so much evil and how do we handle it all? And that’s without even looking into my own heart. I’ve never killed or tortured anyone, but sometimes the sin in my own heart isn’t much prettier. Worrying about myself can be consuming enough, how do I take in all the other stuff in the world? Our modern technological ability to know so much and so quickly of what is happening throughout the world sure doesn’t help.
I am not the type who is just itching to get “out of here”, but when I think on these things, I sometimes end up with only the cry of, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” I just cannot see how we’re ever going to make significant strides in these messes. But then I also think that God has me and all my fellow believers here for His good purposes. And we may never figure it all out during our earthly lifetimes, but we need to do our best in following after Him and allowing Him to use us for good, no matter how bleak things sometimes may appear. And He will return in His perfect timing, which is much greater and wiser than my timing.
I am reminded of the final verse of the modern hymn, “In Christ Alone”. May it be with you as it is for me:
“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”