The photo above was taken earlier today – a peaceful, sunny morning. Likewise the photo below was snapped a few minutes before it:
Nothing extra-ordinary you would probably say. This is the top of our road where we live. It is rubbish collection day but that aside, the street is quiet apart from the sound here and there of work on houses or planes going by towards Schiphol.
Yet as I walked along, it struck me afresh, everything that is so easily taken for granted. No one has to be afraid to leave their home due to the threat of a sniper or bombing from above. There is clean water, power and means to cook. There is plenty of food.
Last night before going to bed, we watched a BBC programme about Aleppo, filmed from within besieged parts of the city in the past weeks. The scenes are unbelievable, so much death, injury and destruction. Such are the horrors of something like a civil war that drags on and on.
How to hold these things together: The peace of living in Leiden and the anguish of those in places like war zones such as Syria?
I am not going to give any easy suggestions here of how we walk this out. But I do feel stirred to write about it.
Guilt of living somewhere like the Netherlands is not the answer. Yet nor is simply shrugging our shoulders and saying what can we do?
- I encourage us to pray for Syria and other places in the world full of strife.
- I encourage us to act in ways that we can towards those in need.
- I encourage us to be grateful for all we have and to be generous in this towards others.
- I encourage us to stand up on behalf of the oppressed, marginalised or forgotten.
How? Rather than spoon feed suggestions, why not take time to pray and think on these points yourself? What can you do?
This coming Sunday I will speak about the resurrection, about the life changing reality that Christ came through death and is alive. In the Gospels, we read an account of a situation where there is grief due to someone having died. Into that context, Jesus speaks these words of himself, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (John 11:25)
Christ was not defeated by death. His crucifixion was not the last act. He is alive and is changing lives. In Christ there are real answers for this world and the brokenness that so many experience. I realise that is very easy to type, how do we see this evident in our neighbourhoods and workplaces as well as situations around this planet?
Life where there is death?
I encourage us to grapple with such questions, asking the Lord to help us find answers.