Jan. 29, 2013
This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Revolution Against Assad’s Regime which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows dead bodies on a street. Syrian activists say at least 65 bodies, some of them with their hands tied behind their back, found on a river bank.
Most nights after dinner, my family reads Scripture and then prays for Syria and the ongoing conflict there. It is unspeakably tragic. Tuesday’s photo made me think of Jesus’ words from John 3: “light came to the world, but people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”
To the ancients, light and darkness served as emblems of right and wrong, good and evil. Lovers of light did what was good and right. Lovers of darkness did not. “They hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed,” Jesus said. “But those who do what is true come to the light, so that their deeds may be clearly seen in God’s sight.” Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn us. We condemn ourselves by our actions. We make our own choices.
We are also victims of the evil choices others make. Evil does not occur in a vacuum. There are perpetrators. Scripture acknowledges this with its promise of justice for the oppressed and punishment for the oppressor (“Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” Matthew 18:7- Jesus, cited by Lincoln in his Second Inaugural). That offenses or sins must come or are necessary is surprising to hear from Jesus. But as Abraham Lincoln also remarked: “The Almighty has his own purposes.” We don’t always know what they are–and I have to admit that “God’s glory” can too often ring hollow.
Nevertheless, my family will continue to pray if only for the ability to pray for purposes even when they seem so purposeless. We trust in the Almighty who came to the world to save it.