Episode 1. Discovering God in War
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War and conflict are a fact of life. All around the globe war is raging. Conflict is a daily fact of life. Question is – where is God? Has He deserted us – or is He there right here in …
War and conflict are a fact of life. All around the globe war is raging. And at a personal level, conflict is a daily fact of life. So the question is – where is God? Has He deserted us – or is He right here in the middle of it all?
If I were to ask you how many wars are being fought in the world right now, what would your answer be? Five or ten? Well I guess it depends on how you define a war.
The United Nations defines major wars as “Military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year”. In 1965 there were about ten major wars under way, there are currently about eight major wars under way, down from fifteen at the end of 2003, and as many as two dozen lesser conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity. Most of those are civil intrastate wars fuelled as much by racial and ethnic or religious animosities as by ideological fervour.
Most victims are civilians, a feature that distinguishes modern conflicts. I mean during World War I civilians made up fewer than 5% of all casualties. Today 75% or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non combatants.
Africa, to a greater extent than any other continent, is afflicted by war. Africa’s been marred by more than twenty major civil wars since 1960. Rwanda, Somalia, Angola, Sudan, Liberia and Burundi are among those countries that have recently suffered serious armed conflict.
Now they’re pretty scary statistics. The source by the way is the website globalsecurity.org. It lists 42 significant conflicts going on in the world today. And really, at any one time we can expect between 40 and 50 to be going on. Now you might say to me, “Berni, why are you talking about wars today?”
Well even though I’m an Australian, yes this program is heard across Australia and New Zealand and many Western countries. I’ve done a quick tally, you see this program is also heard in Africa, in the Pacific, in Asia and on the Sub Continent and there are as least as many people listening to this program today who live in a conflict zone or in a place that’s recovering from a conflict as there are who are living in relative affluence in the West.
I regularly receive responses from people in refugee camps, people who have lost family members. One man wrote to us just a few weeks ago who had lost 14 members of his extended family in a war. A dear friend of mine in Africa his brother was killed just a couple of months ago in a conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
One of the stations that airs this program in Africa regularly gets attacked by rebels. We in the West, we see this stuff on our brand new plasma or LCD flat panel TV’s and we’re almost desensitised. And to be really blunt, the people are normally black or Asian or Middle Eastern and our news services place so much more emphasis and importance on white European people being killed than black or Asian or Middle Eastern. It’s really sad but it’s true.
There is suffering happening today around the world on a mass scale and the affluent West kind of tunes out because it’s too hard. But each of these statistics involves countless millions of people suffering in ways that, frankly I can’t understand.
How many refugees do you think there are in the world today? The answer is 15 to 20 million up from 3 million in the 1970’s. How many slaves are there in the world today? Over 20 million people are living in slavery and bondage, many of those children, many forced into prostitution.
There are countless more. People who are oppressed, people who live in constant fear of being arrested where, where there’s no due process of law, no judicial independence, no presumption of innocence, not even a requirement for them to be charged before they’re thrown into jail. And they rot there for the next 2 decades or the rest of their lives. Countless wives are being beaten, women are being raped, children are being exploited. There is an unimaginable human toll.
25,000 children die each day of starvation and it raises a huge question, if God is God how can He allow this to happen, how can He allow this to go on? How could He create a world where people suffer like this? Do you struggle with that? I do. I know the answer. I know God gave each of us a free will and humanity has such an amazing capacity to exercise that freedom with, with indescribable greed and depravity that bring on this suffering that bring on these wars.
I’m going to talk specifically today to those who are suffering in these places, to the woman in the refugee camp whose husband and sons have been killed in the conflict. To the husband whose wife has been raped, to the parents who can’t provide food for their children because, because the rebels won’t let the food come through.
God, God didn’t cause this and God is not punishing you and I can’t give you an answer as you ask the question, why me? I just can’t. But I can tell you this. Jesus is in that place with you. He’s been beaten, He’s been spat on, He’s been rejected, He was crucified and suffered the most brutal death on that cross 2,000 years ago and He knows, He knows what it is to suffer first hand, He is in that place with you right now. Psalm 9 verse 9 says that:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed and a strong hold in times of trouble.
And Jesus said this. You can read it in Luke chapter 4. He said:
The spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, to recover the sight of the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favour.
There are so many aid agencies around the world, government and non government organisations doing so much good work but so often they can’t get through. There’s graft and there’s corruption and there’s war and there’s stealing and there’s plundering and there’s looting. One thing that’s incorruptible, one thing that’s pure and it brings life, is the word of God and through this marvel of radio in Africa where 90% of people have access and listen to radio, more than have access to clean drinking water actually.
I just want to feed your spirit today with Gods word, with Jesus who will never leave you or forsake you. When you place your faith in Him whether it’s, whether it’s a war in Africa or in, in the Sub Continent or it’s just a conflict, if people are dying or maybe you live in the affluent West you know, and you’re just going through conflict in your life right now that’s just ruining life, I want you place your faith in Him. Let Him provide for you and keep you, look to Him and Him alone. Jesus said:
I will never ever leave you or forsake you.
And for those of us in the West, people who aren’t impacted by war I want to ask you to do 2 things. Firstly to pray, maybe God will lay a specific place or a region or a people group on your heart. Pray regularly for them and secondly do something practical: provide, give sacrificially, find a way to put food on just one family’s table in a war zone, pay for one operation. God is calling us not just to sit here but take, but to make a difference, to be used, to be Christ in that place.