For the faint-hearted

Today I am angry and deflated. I read the newspaper this morning.

Seven Red Cross workers kidnapped in Syria. Members of the Syrian Coalition refuse to participate in peace talks brokered by the United Nations. Israel cuts off supplies from the Gaza Strip because they discover a tunnel underneath the wall which they presume would be used to kidnap Israelis.

Our world is plagued by deep insecurities. We do not trust each other, nor behave in a way that is trustworthy. Therefore we have civil wars and international conflicts. Those who hold power in Syria do no believe that if they relinquish their power they will be safe, or heard, or free. And they’re probably right. Israel does not trust Palestine, nor vice versa. Perhaps they have good reason – history and all that.

But humanly speaking, nothing is going to change until these people and these nations let go of at least a little of their fear and begin to look for a solution that is built on trust. Am I too hopeful?

What would it take for people to let go of fear and broker solutions based on trust? It would need a deep and immovable belief that the other party was committed to my good. Each person would need to be convinced that the other was for them and their good. Right now, nothing could be further from the truth. Can we get here? I believe so, but much needs to change.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father […] Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matt10:28-31).

Fear God, not man. God is the one who was committed to our good, even when we hated him. Jesus died. For you. For me. For everyone. Now I think that makes him trustworthy. We can trust Him. Our fears are real, but so is God. Imagine a world where all people were trustworthy like Jesus. I can’t accurately picture it. But I think it’d be good.

I suspect most people like to think they’re trustworthy. And for the most part, they may be. But picture this: the middle of a war zone. F-18s flying over constantly. Bombs going off next door. Armed officers guarding every street corner. Life is marked by the stench of death. Sounds like a pretty good recipe for insecurity. In that context, anyone could be forgiven for trying to stay safe. Step outside of middle class Sydney and I wonder whether anyone could be forgiven for not trusting people. When you see so much trauma, it must be easy to stop believing that things can be better.

But there is a promise. It’s not for now. It’s for the future.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:1-4).

Entrust yourself to the God who promises this. This hope. This future. This promised better world.

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