The rapid collapse of the Afghanistan government and its fall to Taliban control has sent chills throughout the world. We are haunted by the desperation written on thousands of Afghan faces huddled at the Kabul airport seeking escape. Our hearts and our prayers go out to them.
Why is the world so broken? Why does violence stalk every generation? Why does this continue?
My grandfather fought in France during World War I. But 20 years later, the world was engulfed in another global conflict and the “War to End All Wars” was largely forgotten. Since World War II, America has been at war in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other lesser-known places.
James explained violence this way: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2).
Jesus was under no illusion regarding our circumstances. He said, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. (Matthew 24:6-7).
“In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good courage, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
It’s difficult to imagine the violence and cruelty of the first century. Crucifixion was common under Roman rule. More than 2,000 Jews were crucified and displayed on Galilean roads about the time Jesus was born following a revolt led by Judas ben Hezekiah. As far as we know, every one of the Apostles, except John, was martyred. In spite of this, they lived their lives with hope, joy and peace.
Often persecuted and suffering for his faith in Christ, the Apostle Paul gave us this instruction: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people,” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).
It’s easy to give in to the relentless stream of negative news: wars, violence, abuse and natural disasters. Many see dark clouds gathered on the horizon with little hope for the future. But faith can withstand the most dismal circumstances.
For every act of violence, we can find a thousand acts of kindness. Every overwhelming flood unleashes a greater flood of human kindness, courage and sacrifice. The same can be said for every terrorist attack and every war. God is present. Goodness will triumph. He will not leave nor abandon us. The righteous will not be forsaken. Nothing can destroy the life of the spirit in Christ Jesus.