The first time I went to war was in August 1990. Iraqi forces had invaded and occupied Kuwait, and within a month I and my comrades of the 24th Infantry Division had deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the coalition that would expel the Iraqi invaders in what became known as Operation Desert Storm. To us, the outcome was never in doubt. We knew our capabilities, and we knew there was little the Iraqi military could do to resist the overwhelming force we would bring to bear. All we had to do was prepare as we had been trained, keep watch, and move out when the word came.
None of us knew the exact day and hour when the operation would commence. The Iraqis had been given a deadline to leave Kuwait by January 15, so we knew the operation would begin soon after that. Sure enough, on the night of January 17, a radio message announced the launch of Tomahawk missiles as the opening of our offensive. Yet our waiting continued for six more weeks while air and missile attacks dissolved the Iraqi means and will to resist us. When our ground forces finally moved into action, it took only 96 hours to win a complete tactical victory.
In a sense, the actual fight was anticlimactic after enduring one of the most terrible aspects of war: waiting. Waiting for the order to move is bad enough for those who strike the blows, but we at least had power to do the striking. It is worse for those who have no power to influence the outcome, nor say when it should begin, nor even receive news about what is being planned and what is happening.
These are people of faith I am talking about – people like my wife, my father, and all our loved ones at home. They learned anew each day the trial of trying to be anxious about nothing. All they could do was trust God to look after me, care for my comrades, bring us victory in what we understood to be a just cause, and bring us all home safely. Through it all we learned that waiting is a big part of being God’s people – waiting, watching, praying, all while feeling hopeless, powerless, in the dark, with no way to influence either the timing or the outcome of the justice we so desperately desire.
Our King would have it no other way. He wants our hearts, not just our minds and our lips. If we could deliver ourselves from the terrible injustices our own dark hearts have inflicted on this world, then we would not need Him. Yet if we truly desire to see this darkness removed permanently – not only from our little circles of influence, but from all creation – then we must allow Him to expose all the wickedness so He can thoroughly cut it off.
Do you doubt and despair, wondering if God will ever move? You are not alone. So it is with all of us. That is why our Messiah told this story:
Then Yeshua told them a parable to show that they should always pray and not be discouraged. He said, “There was a judge in a certain city who neither feared God nor respected people. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my opponent.’ He was unwilling at the time. But afterward he said to himself, ‘Although I don’t fear God or respect people, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice so she won’t wear me out by her incessant coming.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge is saying. Won’t God do justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to help them? I tell you, He will quickly give them justice. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8 TLV)
Doubt and despair are inevitable, but not as inevitable as the eventual move of our Creator to bring final justice and redemption to His creation. The question is not whether He will do this, but whether He will find us hanging on in faithful expectation when He does.
Albert J. McCarn
BYNA Executive Director