I made one last quick peek at Twitter last night before I went to bed and immediately could tell something had happened. Osama bin Laden was dead – after a ten year hunt – and the President was about to address the nation. So I stayed up to take in the news. I felt a mixture of emotions.
relief – this man is responsible for many, many deaths. Not just Americans. His death means that he can’t hurt anyone anymore, and he won’t be around to inspire others to hurt people. That is a good thing.
sorrow – as I remember all of those lives lost on 9/11. Those stark moments burned in my memory of those people in the towers, crying for a rescue that never came. Our men and women overseas who have fought for nine long years and continue to fight the war on terror on the front lines, giving their lives to protect our freedom.
shock – as I watched the growing crowds around the White House, screaming, chanting and waving flags like a college frat house after winning a basketball championship.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. Proverbs 24:17
Proverbs is one of the wisdom books for a reason. When we rejoice and celebrate so publicly, so forcefully, are we not behaving just as our enemy? I read an excellent article this morning that sums it up better than I ever could. Why must we gloat? And how can we not think about the danger we are putting our nation’s service men and women in? Because the immediate and easiest retaliation may occur overseas – towards the men and women who are already risking their lives for us everyday. Who are already in harm’s way. Should we be making their lives harder by further provoking and rubbing it in our enemies faces?
It is a victory. But I believe that our behavior in the face of victory says more about the character of our nation than in the face of defeat.
And I think my greater concern is this: Yes, an enemy was defeated, but evil has not ceased. I think it’s naive for us to think by vanquishing one evil man that it will change the greater evil plan against us. It won’t. It will simply be known to us by a different name and a different face. Someone will rise up to take Osama’s place because that is the nature of evil itself. So let’s not be too quick to rejoice. Or to clap our hands, shout USA! and become complacent about the world we live in.
We are in a war. And if we forget that, then we are already losing the battle. But while our brave military serves daily with guns and ammo, we must serve daily as well:
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 2 Cor. 10:4
Our first battlefield is within, but we should also be diligently praying like Jesus prayed – Thy Kingdom come! Here. Now. That we pray for peace and truth and justice. That we are praying for the protection of those on the actual battlefields. That we will take ground from the enemy – not give it up. That the plans of the evil one will be destroyed. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that at the end of this week is the National Day of Prayer – a day set aside to humble ourselves before God and pray for our nation. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln said:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
So let’s pray this week. Let’s pray for mercy, forgiveness, and peace. Let’s remember to whom the victory really belongs. The victory is Christ’s – He is the one who overcomes evil. The world is watching us right now, especially if we claim to love Jesus. What are we showing the world about the Lord today?
my two cents,
Read all of Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation.