Israel rescues four hostages in Gaza operation

Israel rescues four hostages in Gaza operation June 10, 2024

Israeli special forces raided two buildings in central Gaza on Saturday, rescuing four hostages. People in the war-torn region are responding today in three ways.

Many are jubilant. In Tel Aviv, beachgoers cheered when a lifeguard reported the rescue over the PA system; some television anchors broke into tears while announcing the news. One of the four hostages, Noa Argamani, was able to see her terminally ill mother. Her father said, “Today is my birthday, and a gift like this I never believed I would get.”

Some are grieving the death of a commander in the country’s elite Counter-Terrorism Unit who was killed during the operation.

And many are mourning the loss of civilians who died during the operation. The Israeli military reported that Hamas sought to fire at Israeli forces behind civilians. Israeli airstrikes and ground forces then hit the militants. According to local Gaza health officials, scores of Palestinians, including women and children, were killed. Palestinians living in the area described it as one of the worst days of the war. Some voiced anger at Hamas for holding hostages in residential buildings.

Venomous spiders are crawling up the East Coast

How we interpret events depends largely on the ways they affect us personally. Some examples:

  • A man in Mexico has died from a bird flu strain never before seen in humans.
  • Severe weather is continuing with flood threats in the Plains and record heat in Florida.
  • Florida authorities are warning of shark dangers along the Gulf Coast after three people were attacked.
  • Giant, venomous yellow spiders are making their way up the East Coast.
  • A large chunk of Wyoming’s Teton Pass road collapsed over the weekend, severing a well-traveled commuter link.

In each case, I confess that my first thought was that none of these stories affects me directly since I don’t live where any of them are occurring. I suspect you may have responded in the same way unless one of the stories relates more directly to you.

Why do we see the world through such a personal prism?

Impressing you with my humility

Darwin was right in his assertion that the survival instinct is basic to life. Friedrich Nietzsche was also right in noting that the “will to power” is central to human nature.

Taken together, these forces move us to exercise agency and power for self-preservation and personal advancement. This is not speculation or criticism but a fact of our fallen human nature, as true for me as it is for you.

Christians often try to hide our quest for the protection and promotion of self, but even this works in their service. As a minister, I am more likely to advance myself by appearing humble and compassionate than by appearing self-centered and power-hungry.

This is not always so—some leaders in dangerous times are trusted precisely because they seek and wield power effectively. According to a biography I’m reading of World War II’s famous General George Patton, his soldiers called him “Old Blood and Guts” and followed him with gratitude for his courageous audacity.

Five steps to culture-changing compassion

Precisely because we want what is in our personal best interest, we are drawn to the altruistic compassion of others. And because it is so unique, such compassion is a “brand differentiator” and “force multiplier,” to use marketing terms.

When we meet felt needs, we earn the right to meet spiritual needs. When we genuinely care for people whether they care for us or not, we become the change we wish to see and catalysts for the spiritual awakening our culture needs so desperately.

So, how can we be people of true compassion?

One: Admit that we cannot do so in our own capacities.

As I admitted, the survival instinct and will to power are basic to us all.

Two: Seek the character formation of the Spirit.

Submit daily to his control (Ephesians 5:18) and ask him to manifest Christ in us (Romans 8:29) through the “fruit” of his character (Galatians 5:22–23).

Three: See people as immortal.

C. S. Lewis was right:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

Four: View problems as opportunities.

The needs of others are invitations to compassion on our part. And they reveal our character: to learn if you are a true servant, see how you respond when you are treated like one.

Five: Serve others and trust the results to God.

You often cannot know the difference you make on this side of eternity, but every act of kindness in Jesus’ name plants a tree you’ll never sit under in souls who can never be the same. John Bunyan claimed,

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Will you “live” today?

Monday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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