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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Rebuilding a world at war... (Nehemiah 2:2,3)

"so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid,
but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" - Nehemiah 2:2,3

I'm trying not to politicise this blog, but after recent events in Paris, Nigeria and Beirut among others I've felt the need to say something about the things that have happened, the horrors of war and what I think is the appropriate response from Christians when faced with such unbridled and unrestrained hatred and destruction.

Syria and particularly the city of Aleppo currently face a humanitarian nightmare, the city is in danger of complete destruction as it suffers attack from Isis, the Syrian government and western bombing strikes and drone attacks. Destruction not seen since the second world war. I wrote in a previous blog about the destruction of Coventry cathedral during WWII and how it was rebuilt and became a symbol of hope and rebirth; this is all well and good looking back after the reconstruction, but where does that leave us when faced with the destruction? How do we pick ourselves up and carry on?

We pick ourselves up, not because there is a secret formula or magic spell to moving forward, we pick ourselves up because we have to...
We choose to allow hatred and despair to spur us on to further hatred or violence; or we choose hope to spur us on to goodness and grace...but regardless we still must pick ourselves up...

During the clear up of Coventry cathedral after it was destroyed during world war 2, two metal nails were found together in the shape of a cross; this 'cross of nails' has become an international symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Now I am not going to give an opinion on solutions for the current refugee crisis currently facing Europe, but I will say that these people are just that... People, they are not 'animals' or 'cockroaches' as I've heard them called. They are ordinary people fleeing war and chaos, and I will not allow hatred and fear to erase my compassion for my fellow human beings, I accept that not all are innocent and I understand people wanting checks and controls etc but that is another debate for another time and not the purpose of this blog.

Returning to the bible verse, we see the prophet Nehemiah serving as cup bearer to king Artaxerxes, while Israel lies in ruins, Nehemiah feels weak and powerless to do anything about it; this leaves him completely devastated and obviously very sad. This is how I believe the refugees and citizens of Aleppo must be feeling, but this could equally apply to anyone distanced from friends and loved ones, but there is hope...out of the ruins of Coventry cathedral came peace, reconciliation and rebirth, out of 9/11 came unity and now the one world trade centre as a beacon of hope, Jerusalem was rebuilt and restored...there will be an end to hatred and war but the road may be long and full of hardship, but our God is equal to the task, if we trust and hope in Him, we will not be disappointed.

'And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:3,4

Please don't forget those in your lives and communities that are struggling... It may be big things like the dispossessed refugees or anything that those around you are struggling with; they need you to be God's hands and hearts in their lives, that is our challenge and our mission; even more so when faced as we are, with the current climate of fear and hatred...

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