Reconnection and Conflict

I am looking forward to my 50-year class reunion this weekend. It will be a great pleasure to be with people who have been close friends for over half a century, sharing stories of what the last decade has brought us. I am grateful that the Academy (high school and the college) have done so much to build our social and religious community that spans decades and continents. Reflecting on our lives and connections brings to mind many blessings the Lord has given. We have all had our challenges and failures, but what I remember the most are the good times of loving, serving, giving, and forgiving.

While one part of my mind revels in nostalgia and enduring friendship, another part grieves for yet another outbreak of war. A couple of weeks ago I shared the Lord’s prophecy, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:6-7). This week’s news is another literal fulfillment of this prophecy, in Afghanistan and in Gaza.

The war between Israel and Gaza seems to reflect the wars between Israel and the Philistines millennia earlier. Both then and now, the Lord unwillingly permits wars so that we can see evil for what it is. It is not because of divine providence that wars happen, because wars are inseparable from murder, looting, violence, cruelty, and other appalling evils that are diametrically opposed to Christian caring. However, it is absolutely necessary that they be permitted, because ... our life's love has become basically a love of controlling others, ultimately everyone, and of gaining possession of the world's wealth, ultimately all of it.... Unless evils were allowed to surface, we would not see them and therefore would not admit to them; so we could not be induced to resist them. (Divine Providence 251) The Lord cannot rescue any of us from our hell unless we see that we are in it and want to be rescued. In wars we can see what kind of hell we are in.

Today’s Israel and Gaza do not represent the conflicts in the church the way the ancient peoples with those names did, yet all the wars in this world spring from the same sources—love of controlling other people, and the loving of taking their possessions for oneself.

I pray that I may see in myself the inclination to control others and to covet what they have, so that the Lord can rescue me from my hell before it leads to conflict in my family, my friends, my church and my world.