Now is not the time to allocate blame.
Now is not the time to debate who “lost” Iraq – whether it’s President Bush’s fault for starting the war or President Obama’s fault for trying to end the war prematurely.
Now is the time to act.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the world’s leaders made a simple vow: “Never again.”
Never again would they stand aside and watch genocide happen. Sadly, that was an empty promise for Rwanda’s Tutsi minority and for the victim’s of Cambodia’s killing fields. Will it be an empty promise again for Iraq’s Christians and Yazidis?
There’s little question that we’re watching genocide unfold before our eyes.
My husband made reservations at one of his favorite restaurants a couple of weeks ago. All last week he built the excitement. “What are you doing Saturday night?”, he’d ask. “Going on a date with my hub,” I’d reply. By Saturday afternoon he had succeeded, I was excited.
But though I sat among the happy energy of gala conversations and celebrations, pampered by a pleasantly attentive waiter, I had trouble enjoying it. It wasn’t the food, my citrus glazed grouper, spinach and sautéed mushrooms were delicious, though a bit sweet. The french pressed coffee served with an array of bittersweet chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks, cream, whipped cream and rock sugar was truly special, and the massive slice of carrot cake we shared for dessert may have been the best I’ve ever had.
But my mind kept going to the children who are being beheaded in Iraq. “How can I enjoy all this when they are suffering all that”, I kept wondering. For my husband’s sake, I tried to stay in the moment, shift my thoughts back to him. Maybe I should enjoy my blessings while they last because the persecution they are suffering might one day extend to me.
On the way to church the next morning, I expected the service to begin with an urgent call to prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters stranded and dying atop a mountain range in Iraq. But there was no mention of it. Lots of announcements about upcoming activities but, frankly, who cares? People are dying. If it were me and my family on that mountain, I would want my fellow Christians around the world to call out to God loudly, fervently, constantly until we were all rescued.
My thoughts have been going to them and my thoughts have been bleak. Darkness seems to be overtaking the light. But this morning I read Joel and I was reminded that God always wins.
From chapter 1 – “The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed…Surely the people’s joy is withered away.” As I read this, I saw the refuges waiting desperately for food and water to be dropped. I saw them scrambling to be one of the lucky ones to board the helicopter. Lord, won’t you please send ravens to feed them? Won’t you please rain down manna? Please, show them which rocks to strike for water.
“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the LORD.” I hope your church is doing this, dear reader. Mine isn’t.
Chapter 2: “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill… Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly… Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, LORD. Do not make them an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Then the Lord took pity on His people. “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully…. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you… And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…
Then chapter 3 ends with, “Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged? No, I will not.”
God is greater than the darkness but that doesn’t let us off the hook.
When I realized, long ago, that my dad was a teenager at the end of World War II, I asked him why the U.S. didn’t do more, sooner. Why didn’t our citizens rise up and demand action? He said it took awhile before we realized what was going on. And, sadly, shamefully, some people were not opposed to what was going on. With today’s instant access to the news of the world, we have no excuse.
Please: “Never again.”
Update: There’s something we can do.