I live 25 miles from an old military installation, now used for training Reserve-men. As the crow flies, we are much closer. Military helicopters fly low, back and forth over our home, most of the year. I never quite get used to it. In the back of my mind, I remember that they are here because their purpose is to be ready if they are called upon to defend our country. In the late spring and early summer, they crank up their training. They get out their big guns, and they typically do it in the evenings and into the early morning. It’s not unusual to lay awake at 1:00 am, hearing the thundering while feeling the rumble that shakes the house. You can see water ripple in puddles when they fire. It’s close.
Since the Ukraine invasion, there are new sounds. We hear rapid gunfire outside our windows, and the helicopters are out earlier. I hear the chopping of their blades as I write this, and I think of the people on the other side of the world. I feel discomfort in the sounds around my home, and my thoughts are pulled to compassion for those who are caught in the war zone.
My daughter read to me this morning that mothers in Poland are leaving their strollers at the train station for the mothers who are arriving with their babies from Ukraine… saying good-bye to papas and once upon a time security, and watching dreams dissipate in the uncertainty of this hour. I ask myself what I would be willing to give up to help them if I could, and I whisper prayers for them as I am surprised by how I think of them when I wake in the night. How can my heart break for people I do not know? How does God’s patience with us last so long? But He is coming back. His return is sooner with every day that passes.
In Luke 21, Jesus explained to his disciples the signs that would precede the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the world.
“Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” vs. 10, 11
We live in an age where the news is instant. There have been so many fearful events. I think of Corrie Ten Boom’s story of her father, who told her,
“Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
Sometimes the world’s events feel too heavy. Jesus described it in verse 34 & 35, when he said, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”
We have seen it, haven’t we? Those who are disparaging, complaining of anxiety and depression. Some people still won’t spend time with others, in community, because they are too afraid of the “what-if’s” that have been planted through Covid. We might be tempted to numb ourselves to the craziness, but Jesus gives us a solution.
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” vs. 36
Watch and pray. Stand firm in Christ, keeping your eyes on the goal. He carries so much for us, making it possible for us to reach the finish strong.
Be aware of the circumstances the world is in, but hold fast to God and remember that we answer to Him. They answer to Him. And then we understand so much more why God said to pray for our enemies. We are all in the reserves, spiritually speaking. We are to keep training because the enemy brings the battle to our doorstep, but we battle on our knees, clinging to what is true and discarding what is not, remembering to be thankful, and glorifying God as Lord. It would be easy to wish our enemies would just go away. “Take them out, God.” Yet, the patience He models for us calls to us, instead, to ask God to convict them. Save them. Change them. Can we give up offense to offer them the hope of peace with God, a righteousness for them to wear in place of their filthy, sin stained rags?
Imagine if we all always did that? What would happen?
The rumble of war is a reminder to pray for those in the war zone, and all who are watching, asking God to reveal himself to a people who desperately need salvation.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:44