The angel of the Lord also said to her [Hagar]: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Genesis 16:11-12
For thousands of years, conflict has raged in the Middle East. Whether Arab against Jew or Arab sects fighting amongst themselves, I’ve lost count, just in my lifetime, of the endless uprisings, wars, and skirmishes.
This much is true: Lasting peace will only come to mankind after Jesus comes to establish His Kingdom.
So what are we to do in the meantime? Intervene each time there is a humanitarian crisis amidst the conflicts, or merely shake our heads and say, “Tsk, tsk, nothing will ever be solved in the Middle East.”
I’ll admit I don’t have an answer. If I did, perhaps I’d be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize. Not so hard to imagine since others have won for lesser accomplishments. J
But I digress.
I think we’ve proven to ourselves in this country that intervening, though it may produce short-term gains, often has little long-term effects on how citizens of these nations truly relate to each other. Hatred runs deep, and what’s inbred in the culture from birth is almost impossible to overcome. If everything about your life is seen through the lenses of hatred for your fellow man, chances are that will continue.
Biblical scholars and historians believe Ishmael was the father of the Arab nations, just as his half-brother Isaac carried Abraham’s lineage down through the nation of Israel. An angel told Ishmael’s mother Hagar of the trouble he and his descendants would cause. It doesn’t take rocket science to study history and see this prediction came true.
So, is there even a solution to this humanitarian crisis in Syria?
It’s incumbent upon a blessed nation like the United States, and even more so for Christians, to not turn a blind eye to the suffering. We can’t merely watch a video of victims of chemical attacks with their skin half-burned off, trembling, eyes rolling back, and moaning in excruciating pain. Not to mention the 100,000 who’ve already been killed and scores others injured in this conflict. It’s not enough to feel sickened by the images and be heartbroken for Syrians and then return to the status quo in our lives.
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:44-45
Regardless of your stance on events in Syria and our ability to change the course, we can still try to do for the “least of these.” Thousands of children have been caught in the crossfire of adult conflict.
A tangible, hands-on contribution from those financially able would support organizations like Samaritan's Purse, whose workers are on the ground in neighboring countries such as Northern Iraq, providing aid to thousands of Syrian refugees who’ve fled their homeland.
But alleviating the crisis to any degree must begin with prayer. You might ask: Prayer for who? And how will this help?
· First and foremost, pray that God raises up a Syrian leader more gracious to his people than their current leader President Bashar al-Assad. Regardless of their beliefs, culture, or choices, Syrian citizens don’t deserve the hellish conditions they’re living in now.
· Pray for our leadership in Washington to have a discerning spirit and seek God’s guidance and wisdom in whatever solution they deem necessary.
· Pray that God opens a path for humanitarian and medical aid to get into Syria to help the folks who’ve been hurt by this two-year conflict.
· Pray that in the midst of this conflict and others raging around the world, seen and unseen, victims will cry out to God as their source of comfort—and not seek the path of more conflict and revenge against their brothers.
· Pray that God hastens the day that he sends Jesus back to the earth to begin the process of establishing His final Kingdom.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5
What a glorious day that will be!
I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God
So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse
To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move, but I refuse
(by Benjamin Glover & Joshua David Wilson)
If you have a prayer need, please share it in the comments. You can do so anonymously, if you wish, or e-mail me confidential requests. Our prayer list is located at the top of the blog along with info on Sgt. Jesse McCart, an American soldier injured by an IED in Afghanistan last summer. Would you take a few moments to pray for these folks? Thanks!
©Laura Hodges Poole