by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
The civil war in Syria seems endless and is daunting, discouraging, and dismaying. It has gone on for over three years. 150,000 people have been killed, including many children. The numbers who have been displaced, injured, and have had property destroyed are awful. According to a recent United Nations report, attacks by pro-government forces are leading to mass casualties, malnutrition and starvation. 90 percent of explosive causalities are civilians. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are in temporary camps in Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey The nations of the world, including the United States, seem not to know what to do.
One response is to say that this is their problem—not ours. I have been rereading and studying Isaiah for Lent. The message of God in Isaiah deals with Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria among many other nations. It is apparent from the scriptures that God cares for the nations of the world. God gives us the promise of Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” If we believe in God, it is not proper for us to ignore or turn away from the problems of others. Jesus said that the second great commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is apparent from scripture that our neighbors involve many more than the people next door. In John 3:16, we read “God so loved the world”. It should be obvious to believers that we should pray for the people of Syria. We may be limited in what we can do, but it is not appropriate for us to ignore the troubles of others.
Many explanations for these troubles are found in the Bible. Galatians 6:7,8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Proverbs 13:15, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” What is happening in Syria is the consequence of human sin—disregard of God and the word of God. The consequences of unbelief and ignoring of God are severe. Psalm 9:15, “The nations have sunk in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid has their own foot been caught.”
The lesson for us—is that to choose a way contrary to the God of the universe will lead to disaster. As we see the troubles of others, we should look to ourselves, and remember that we reap what we sow. There are many people in our nation who think that we can get along fine without God. They are mistaken! God’s purpose for us is life and light and salvation. The words of Jesus: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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