Devotional: "Home Is Where the War Is"
Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet. The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. – Psalm 140:1-5
I love New York City. I love large cities in general, at least in short doses. While I love to visit at every opportunity, I decided long ago that I am not particularly well cut out for big city life. Were I single I would almost certainly have a different perspective, but raising a family in more rural settings over the last two decades is where I found myself more at ease.
My reason is simple: the city is a dangerous place. While I have little discomfort traversing big cities alone, I have a very different experience when my family is present. Each time I would take my wife and children to New York City, or Washington, D.C., or any other metro area, I was on full alert the entire time. It was difficult to fully enjoy our activities due to the fact that I was continuously glancing around for any of the threats that are often associated with large metropolitan conurbations–and rightly so. I made sure we were always in well-lit areas with larger crowds, avoiding backstreets and questionable neighborhoods. Once we returned home to smaller, more familiar environs, I would relax somewhat, thinking we were back in safer spaces.
This is, of course, a foolish assumption. The entire world is a dangerous place, a figurative and literal warzone. Large cities are more dangerous because there are more people, and therefore more who would likely be willing to victimize others for their own benefit or pleasure. The location of the city or town isn’t the issue as much as the nature of the people who inhabit them. Sin has poisoned everything, everywhere. Home is where the war is.
There are beauties and wonders to behold, certainly. Stunning spectacles both manmade and natural are easy to find, but they all suffer from the same taint of corruption that was brought into the world at the Garden of Eden. Sin has worked its way through the veins of creation, and sickness corrupts all. Mankind is the clearest example of this. We do harm to others for no reason other than that they obstruct us from a goal. They have something we want, they look different than us, they have insulted us–on and on the list of perceived slights and petty desires goes. Street crime is only the beginning. Violence is the ultimate result of such base longings, and more and more people find themselves trapped and torn in the vicious teeth of war every day, soldier and civilian alike. The 24-hour news cycle that even follows us onto our mobile devices is all too happy to remind us that war is an ever-present reality for many, an unwelcome squatter in the house of their lives.
Where, then, is our hope? Should we hide in the hills and valleys of rural America, shrinking away from the vilified concentrations of humanity in our shadowy Gothams? Shall we while away our lives merrily disconnected from the reality that sin is pervasive, and evil men roam all the land making war against all that is good? Shall we cower in fear while the fight rages on around us? What is the genuine solution? What is our actual responsibility as faithful followers of the one true God?
We are to seek help and deliverance from the Lord God alone, the only One who can preserve us. The Waymaker has made the way through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross, and now we must do our part. We must suit up in the armor He has given to us, using the disciplines of prayer and fasting to empower us for the work to which He has called us. We are not to stay hidden from the threats of wickedness; rather, we are to rally and charge forth into the battle, knowing that the Lord our God is our Guard, our Shield, our Fortress. He will protect us and empower us for the fight, and we find security in His presence and the knowledge that the war is already won through Christ Jesus.
Father, we thank You for being our protector and deliverer. Forgive us for our fears and doubts that threaten to hinder our faithfulness and obedience to the call to go forth into the world with Your Gospel. We know there are times we will come under attack–physically, spiritually, and in every other way–but we thank You that You are always with us. We pray for those who are suffering now in warzones large and small, persecuted and slaughtered for reasons both seemingly valid and petty. Be their protector. Give faith and strength, courage and hope, knowing that You are bigger than any enemy or circumstance. Bring peace in the conflict, joy in the suffering, that You would be glorified above all. In Jesus’ name we ask these things.
Ministry Director, CU Vita (Cornell University)
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