I can’t get her face, her eyes filled with shock and terror, out of my mind. I keep hearing her cry, “papa, papa, papa”. The little Yazidis girl dressed in purple, rescued off a mountain where her village fled to and where many (estimated 20,000) are now starving, is representative of countless lives traumatized or ended. Her people group, the Yazidis, is being massacred by ISIS. And Christians are literally being wiped off the map. Iraqi Christian children are being be-headed, their mother’s raped and their father’s hung. One Christian bishop witnessed a child being cut in half. People are being buried alive. Women are being stoned to death or taken into slavery.
I also have ringing in my ears, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful”.
The evil in this world is beyond fearful! It’s terrifying! Oh yes, there’s also Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul”. But these people are out to brutally kill the bodies of every human that does not convert to their Islamic State way of thinking. It’s estimated these militants/terrorists number 30,000 to 50,000 in Syria and Iraq alone. Fear not?
How, Jesus, how?
1 John 5:16-21, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
I get it. Love. But those terrorists are consumed by hate and they are training generations to hate. I also can’t get the face of the 9-year-old boy being questioned by his militant father “Do you want to grow up to be a jihadist? Are you sure?” Or, what about the photo of a 7-year-old boy in Syria posing with a severed head in his hands? Evil nurturing evil.
Hitler, Lenin, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Hamas…hate-filled history just keeps repeating itself.
So how is love the answer to fear? 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” This verse tells me God did not give me a spirit of fear. I have the God given spirit to love, with power, those who are oppressed by hate. What does that look like for me?
- Stop being surprised and paralyzed by the horror of this past week. We are in world at war and I’m not talking about ugly ISIS and brave Kurds. God told us, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” If it seems like the gates of hell have been opened it’s because they have been. Pray. Immerse myself in God’s Word. And take my head out of the sand so the marching armies of hatred don’t take over my borders.
- Start doing what God has asked of me. Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I need to boldly move for actions of mercy and justice. How? Give today to an organization that is caring for the displaced=mercy. Write for as long as it takes and pound the doors of my political representatives to strike the hammer of justice on ISIS=act justly. Keep my trust in God.
Through all of this I still grieve. It would be inhuman not to do so. And I have hope. “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed…we know that the whole creation has been groaning …inwardly as we wait…(for) the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently…we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express…”
Spirit, please intercede.
August 13th update: Papa’s alive! The girl in purple has heard from her father. He made it to the mountain!