War, conflict and the God of peace?
Lest we forget. A deathly silence descends over our nation as another Remembrance Day is observed by all. One quiet minute takes our sober minds to the horrors of war, death and suffering from past and present.
For some, thoughts of war are traumatic memories which would rather be forgotten. For others, information and images are borrowed from photographs and stories passed down through history books and veterans who are brave enough to relive their experiences. We say to ourselves, "may this never happen again" and hope the world has learnt its lesson.
Yet what was once known as Armistice Day, marking the end of armed conflict during the Great War of 1914-1918, was renamed Remembrance Day. Why? To allow for tribute to those who fought and died in the many wars that followed and those that continue to rage on. The world has not learnt its lesson.
Well-known writer of The Chronicles of Narnia and theologian C.S Lewis was qualified to comment on the tyranny of war and the key to history.
As an infantry officer wounded in the First World War, Lewis experienced firsthand the death and devastation wrought by it and wrote, "Terrific energy is expended – civilizations are built up – excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top, and then it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down."
So what is this fatal flaw he speaks of? We decided to go it alone without any influence from God.
Just after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks on America's twin towers, Billy Graham's daughter Anne responded to this pure evil in an interview saying, "For years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"
In The Problem of Pain Lewis illustrates this in writing, "We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not God who starts wars and fuels feuds, it is people who have turned their backs on Him and do not follow in His ways.
It is wrong to say that God never supports a war – Jesus is not a pacifist. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves?
War is a terrible thing. Some wars are more "just" than others, but war is always the result of sin (see Romans 3:10-18). In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil, war is inevitable.
Yet rather than blame God for the deaths and the suffering, the most important thing we can do, as we remember the fallen and those who are currently defending our nation, is turn to Him in prayer. Pray for wisdom for our leaders, pray for the safety of our military, pray for quick resolution to conflicts, and pray for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides.
Above all, pray that God may forgive all of your sins and seek to live in obedience to Him so that you may be at peace with God.