You may not want to hear any more about the crisis in Iraq, but I just feel I can’t not write something about it. It’s been buzzing around my head and thrumming on my heart, keeping me awake at night and causing me to question so many things. The only thing that could have stopped me writing about it is the fact that I’m not sure how to articulate any of those feelings, especially in a useful or encouraging way. So this won’t be neat – how could it be? I don’t have all the answers – I’m not sure I even have any.
Since becoming a mother I am definitely more sensitive to hearing about people suffering. I don’t know why, I think maybe I now have more of a sense of how precious life is. But when I hear about mass killings and horrors worse than death – unimaginable suffering – a lie creeps in. It’s not a myth, but a lie. I start to think that maybe children aren’t as precious as I thought they were. I’ve been praying for and caring for my kids, and loving the bones of them, and thinking all this time that God loved them too. But maybe I’ve got that wrong? Maybe life is more throw-away than I thought it was? This might sound crazy to you. But when I hear a man on the radio saying that every child in his village has been murdered, I can’t marry that up in my mind with the idea that every child’s life matters. I thought it did, but maybe I’m wrong? And I don’t want to be wrong!
But when I think about that rationally, what I’m really doing is letting something other than God’s Word tell me the value of human life. I’m letting terrorists tell me the value of human life. And why would I do that? Why would I let them preach to me that these children and families are not valuable, and that God doesn’t care about them? (Incidentally, if God didn’t care so much, then why would anyone else in the world care so much? What is human life if we’re all just atoms bopping around? But that’s a thought for another day.)
So how do I know that God cares as much as me? Or rather, how do I know that God is furious about this, and that he loves those people much more than I do?
In Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus speaks to his disciples about how the world will treat them. He tells them they will be ‘flogged in the synagogues’ among other things. Please have a read of it for me. And after he’s warned them about that, he gives them this beautiful reassurance:
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
God does care – he cares about every hair on their heads. And one day, he will bring about justice:
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
So when I think about those families, trapped on scorching mountainsides or crammed into refugee camps or much, much worse, I must remember that the Lord our heavenly Father made those people, and he loves and treasures them, and he will put things right one day. Let’s pray that the Day would come soon, and ask God to encourage our brothers and sisters with these truths from Revelation 7:
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”