Current events are troubling. Haven’t they always been? People never learn; they keep stirring up trouble and the innocent pay the price. We are seeing that in the Middle East right now. It’s nothing new.
My entire life has been lived under the shadow of war, threat of war, and the threat of a nuclear holocaust. I was born five years after the end of WWII (remember it was an atomic bomb that caused the Japanese to surrender). My father and my wife’s father were navy soldiers/seamen in the South Pacific in that war. A few short years later the Korean War broke out, although it was never declared a war, rather a “police action.”
From the late 1950’s the USSR was a constant threat. That period marshalled in the “cold war,” but at times it “heated up.” Times were tense back then. Try to imagine watching Leave It to Beaver or The Donna Reed Show sponsored by commercials urging you to buy a bomb shelter. There were constant attempts by the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, at intimidation. Once he said, “we will bury you,” referring to the USA.
Then there was the Cuban Missile Crisis (Sally’s father was involved in that…if you’re interested you should ask her about it). It occurred October 16-28, 1962. The Soviets placed weapons with nuclear warheads in Cuba, 90 miles from Miami. Our president, JFK, demanded they be removed, and they were. But it was considered the most dangerous moment in the Cold War. We were “this close” to WWIII.
Then there was Vietnam from 1955-1975. It was a prolonged “conflict” between North Vietnam (supported by the USSR and China) and South Vietnam (supported by the USA and other anti-communist allies). That war affected my generation, and many of my peers served over there, including three of Sally’s brothers and both of mine. Fortunately, I was never sent there. The war became increasingly unpopular. Marches and demonstrations against our involvement were common. War was a constant reality in life for those of us living in America. Right now, we are in a proxy war with Russia and the Ukraine and headed for a proxy war in the Middle East. It never ends. Jesus said, Mt. 24:6, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” Mostly likely, the context is the coming destruction of Jerusalem that occurred about 40 years after Jesus said it. But it seems that Jesus is also stating a timeless principle: “wars and rumors of wars” always will be part of a worldwide scene. Power-hungry men love war. And it may not be popular to say it, but “if you don’t understand something, look for the financial interest.” Wars are profitable, and billions of dollars are made from wars. That’s one reason rumors of wars often become real wars.
The rumor of a war may not scare you like it scared us when we were young kids. Every so often, we would have a “nuclear blast drill” and were told to get under our desks. Seriously! We lived in Southern California, close to several military bases. My father worked for the department of the Navy, at a Naval Weapons center, designing missiles that could be shot from one continent to another. It was a vulnerable place to live at a vulnerable time.
So, what do we do? One answer to this is found in Philippians 4:6-7, where Paul says, “… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Of course, there are also figurative battles that we face in our daily lives; raising our kids, dealing with illnesses or loss of a loved one, the constant concern for our older kids and grandkids, and more. For some, putting bread on the table is a battle, although that should never be the case for one of our members here or elsewhere, for that matter. Sometimes life is a smooth ride on the sea. But usually, life is at least a bit of a turbulent ride, and sometimes those waves are so strong, it makes life seem almost unnavigable. “Wars and rumors of war,” added to these daily struggles, just make matters worse.
It's easier for us who are older to not be anxious. I guess we’ve been there and survived. Aging itself creates some “battles.” But in the November or December of our lives, we tend to be less concerned about war talk, even as we are concerned about what our kids and g-kids will experience in their lifetime. But… and we all know this… the only thing we can and should do is take one day at a time. Mt 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Life may seem chaotic and dangerous now but hold on, because God has something better for us. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11
- Randy Clark