I am not an alarmist, nor am I one to live with my head in the sand, either. I just find myself wanting to avoid the newscasts each night these days because they are filled with all manner of misbehaving people everywhere. The media makes their money and wins their Pulitzer's on the hype they can muster around certain media topics. Race riots, wars, and terror plots seem to abound, so there is no lack of "fodder" for their fancy. In fact, if there isn't really anything much behind some story, I honestly think they find ways to blow these little stories into bigger ones and then before long, the whole thing gets really out of control. I can recount a couple of times in the past year when a simple action gets huge hype. The mother who left her kids in the car so she could go to a job interview and then when arrested, despite her wrong action, the media made it possible for the world to begin to send her money in the form of donations for the "poor mother forced to do resort to this". The sad state of affairs is made all the worse by the mother refusing to actually spend the monies she received in donation as the court has ordered her to do so - to provide for the welfare of her children. Causes leading to violent bloodshed, the loss of innocent lives, and the destruction of properties galore in an already poor nation riddle our screens with images of the extreme devastation nightly. Yes, ware is awful and lives are unnecessarily lost. I have to wonder if all the infighting in some of these situations isn't made all the more "valid" by the hype we give it in the media. We should always be reminded of this one truth - God is at the helm - regardless of what the media might hype or bring to the forefront of our imaginations.
Look at the powerful things the Lord has done. See the awesome things he has done on earth. He stops wars all over the world. He breaks the soldiers’ bows, shatters their spears, and burns their shields. God says, “Stop fighting and know that I am God! I am the one who defeats the nations; I am the one who controls the world.” (Psalm 46:8-10 ERV)
We spend millions of dollars producing these "media campaigns" related to wars, riots, and ill-behaved individuals. We give our time and attention to these stories, but can we say we give our time and attention to their plight? As I went into a my local cell phone store to obtain a replacement for my "expanding battery" in my old one, I noticed something which stirred my heart a little. Two young men, probably not a day over 18 or 19 stood on the sidewalk with an Army recruiter practicing their salutes and standing at attention. They were preparing for their enlistment and they showed such enthusiasm and commitment to the cause they were about to embark upon. I don't know what stirred within their hearts, but it reminded me of my own enthusiasm and the stirring of emotion which still occurs when I see a man or woman in uniform, setting out to do whatever it is they are called to do in service to our country. I used to wear that uniform - with much pride, similar enthusiasm, and deep love for my country. Once a member of the armed forces, I recount that feeling of swelling urgency to do as commanded, go where directed, and give your all to whatever is the place you are called to serve.
The sadness began to well in my spirit which I fear is the sadness of many families these days. The sadness is related to the potential of loss - knowing very well that war is an ugly thing, producing ugly outcomes and the potential of the greatest loss of all - life. The long periods of absence from their homes, coupled with the tremendous "unknown" of what one will see, much less experience personally is almost overwhelming to some. Men and women return home all the time - but they are seldom the same after their experience of warfare. You cannot see the devastation and extreme loss of life without it affecting the core of your being. If we might just for a moment stop what we are doing today and just take a moment to do just one thing, I'd be ever so grateful. Let us pray for those who serve our country - whether it is in battle in a far-off land, or on the streets of our home town as a police officer, EMT, or member of our fire departments. We may not be able to preserve their lives, but we can certainly lift them up before the one who can!
As we pray, let us keep in mind the prayer of this Psalm:
- Recount all God has done on our behalf already. Herein is where we begin - in celebration of our God and Savior. He is the focus of our hope and he is the beginning of the end of the wars, riots, and wrongful activities everywhere.
- He can break the weapons we use against each other quicker than anyone or anything else. We fight with physical weapons - he engages heavenly warriors! We raise arms against one another - he raises his one hand and sets things in motion we do not see, nor do we sometimes even understand or appreciate.
- Declare his power throughout the world. Herein is the crux of our prayer, for he is the one, who by one word spoken from his lips, stop the wars everywhere. He is the one, who with one breath from his nostril, set right the hearts of those struggling to find purpose and a sense of hope in a world riddled with all manner of division and strife.
- Lay those before him who might not even understand these things, or have any awareness that there is a God who controls it all. It may seem like all is out of control right now, but remember this - God never relinquishes control of those who call upon him!
We cannot stop the wars ourselves - for human beings have dealt with the ugliness of their own selfish nature since the beginning of time. We may not be able to stop the riots over race, color, or creed, but we can stand assured in the presence and peace of the one who looks beyond race, color, or creed and sees a soul in need of a Savior. We may not be the ones about to embark on a mission into warfare, but we can do our part as a member in the "armies of the Lord" by lifting them up in prayer before him. We can shut off the TV, my friends. We can stop reading and listening to all the media hype. These are things we "can" do. Listen to God's voice - lean into his arms - lift his name in the nations - and pray for peace everywhere. Just prayin!