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All those innocents …?

Sat, Nov 6, 2021

Murder of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni

Thank you all for the overwhelming show of support and love to us. From the moment I logged off my zoom Bible study class, on Tuesday evening until now, we are deluged with telephone calls and messages from family and friends, wanting to know whether we are safe and what is happening over here. This was triggered by the announcement of a nationwide state of emergency and the news that the conflict in our beloved adoptive home (for the last five years) had escalated.

The last year has been one of discussion, debate, and attempts to respond to questions about the situation in the north. Who is the victim and who is the villain? We have exercised our minds on what a good solution would be, did the PM jump the gun (pun unintended)? We have watched helplessly as people went at each other on Twitter (and possibly in other social media spaces), as guns continued to pound in the north.

Meanwhile, the news flowing downstream continued to break our hearts, hollow and turn us inside out. Haunting pictures of children reduced to ribs and swollen bellies by malnutrition and others tragically orphaned; audio recordings of tales of horrific sexual abuse to helpless, innocent women; pictures of young gun-toting soldiers and video clips of others being shot at point-blank range.

Why Lord? This question rises to our tongues and will not be silenced.

These things happen in the world all the time …

… but when it’s in your backyard its tug at your heartstrings is so much more.

Yes, the situation is complex as the varied commentary from news sources says. A quick or peaceful resolution seems unlikely if one is to go by some (in)famous pronouncements. The international community seems to be rousing itself to action, but so much damage has already been done.

All those innocents – are they merely collateral damage?

The families in the old Jewish village of Bethlehem must have asked the same question. It all started when some foreigners, dusty camels and all, arrived into town and asked to be shown the newborn King of the Jews that they may pay tribute. The reigning king, Herod the Great, was not amused. He ordered the killing of all boys under two years of age when he failed to locate this new king.

You have to pause and wonder at his ruthlessness and the insecurity that caused him to be threatened by a newborn babe. Realistic historical estimates put the number of murdered boys in the dozens … not thousands as held by ancient tradition … but any dead child is one too many! How were poor innocent villagers to make sense of this?

This deeply unsettling story is shared in the same breath, ironically, as the good news of the birth of Jesus. The writer parallels this story with an earlier incident – the conquest of Judea – and he quotes a lament that expressed the sorrow of mothers whose families were murdered and carried off into exile.

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Rachel becomes the representative of all those mothers in the land who wept for their little children.

This most tragic of episodes in New Testament history is a reminder of how evil men can become in their quest for power. And to Matthew, the writer of this story, it is a reminder of how very much the world needs a Redeemer. The only solution for this kind of world is a Savior who will save people from their sins and usher in a new age of righteousness and peace.

I, for a fact, cannot claim to know which words or explanation can comfort a mother who has lost their child and in such wanton killing. In the geography of God’s sovereignty, many features remain mysterious. But the belief that HE is in control, that evil has a limit, can maybe encourage us to entrust ourselves to the one for whom those innocent boys lost their lives.

He went through gross injustice, senseless suffering, shame… to death on the cross; he defeated death and promises to eventually work all things together for good.

As I write, we hope that the situation will not go further south (literally and figuratively). For now, we are staying put; not because of particular bravely or foolhardiness on our part – simply because that’s the advice from those who take care of us. Our faith is in God who limits evil and in this case, we pray that the evil will be limited, in extent and duration.

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2 responses to “All those innocents …?”

  1. Congratulations on winning 2nd place in the Litt-World writing competition. I enjoyed your entry and am thrilled to discover your blog. I am an American who lived many years in Africa (including Ethiopia) and appreciates your rich perspective.

    • Thank you Leanne for visiting with me and letting me know. I will be sure to ‘drop by’ at your place! I hope with time I can get to hear more of your experiences in my part of the world.

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