How must it feel to have your homeland occupied by the enemy, to be dispossessed of your land, to have your home bombarded and devastated, and reduced to a pile of rubble? How must it feel to lose relatives and friends, lose possessions, lose dignity, and be surrounded by devastation, chaos and uncertainty, knowing no security, and not knowing where the next meal may come from, or whether you even have a table to sit at? How would we cope with no electricity, no running water, living the life of a refugee, living in a climate of fear? What must it be like to be frightened by the callous actions of extremists, and equally fearful of your own emotions which may boil over in desperation demanding justice and revenge?
For an ordinary bloke wanting to live a peaceful, meaningful life, earn a living, care for a family, bring security and protection to those you love, and maintain a grip on beliefs and values, a life in that kind of environment would be severely restricted.
Even when a cease fire is declared, providing desperate civilians a much needed opportunity to assess the damage, look after the wounded and somehow go on with their lives, it’s a fragile peace and experience suggests it will not last, that conflict will resume, and there will be yet more suffering.
Sometimes, our hearts can feel like that enemy occupied land – battle weary, battered and bruised after yet another enemy onslaught. Every now and then there is a temporary cease-fire, giving chance to re-group, offering new hope and encouragement to keep going. Yet, after only a brief respite, another bombardment comes, threatening to destroy much of what we had salvaged from previous wreckage. Enemies know how to target with precision any weakness in our defences. Their aim is to steal, kill, destroy, immobilise, silence, and distract. They know how to create dis-unity, spread lies and confusion, cut off supplies, extinguish hope, break the battle line, prey on the vulnerable, sever communication, dampen spirits and create exhaustion.
Options are limited in a situation where most of what is happening is outside our control. The only choices available are probably equally daunting. Neither choice comes without risk. Neither is right nor wrong. We can remain victims, hunkering down until the next cease-fire, longing for peace, yet existing and surviving rather than really living, but at least being close to roots and family and all that is familiar.
Or, we can gather all those we love and anything we can salvage, and start out on a path that is unfamiliar, heading for a destination which is unknown, taking on a new adventure with hope of a better life.
Whichever option is chosen, we’ll need to cling to the promise that even though life at the moment is not how we imagined it would be, the best is yet to come.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10 – NIV
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.John 10:10 – The Message