I am writing this in front of several television sets simultaneously showing news about the ongoing battle in Marawi City, 1500 kilometers south of Manila. The Philippines Defense Secretary just announced that ISIS is likely behind the terrorist siege. It’s been 12 days since the violence started, and an estimated 175 people have already died (120 of whom were members of the terrorist group, according to official reports). Thousands of civilians have fled and found their way to evacuation sites. Many are possibly still held hostage. Summary killings of suspected terrorists have been reported.
It’s been months since I last blogged, so when I eagerly opened my WordPress account today it was to write about how I’d heaved a huge sigh of relief upon submitting the last of my school papers. I wanted to share how God has been faithful and full of grace for me and my family all through the recent developments in our lives.
I thought, too, of posting observations and photos from my recent travels. Or of writing on topics that had been on my mind — wholeness, discipleship, my favorite worship song. But in the midst of watching the news I just found myself unable to write about any of these things. Not now.
My heart is grieving. So much suffering, so much hate — not just here in my own county but in so many places throughout all the world as well.
In my quiet time this morning I read from Micah 6:6-8 —
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Marawi seems so far away, the conflict so complex, and the hateful noise around it so loud. Things are even worse in many other cities and countries torn by all kinds of devastation. I cannot think of anything I can do towards the pursuit of justice, except to pray for all who are affected by the innumerable crises happening all over and for all our leaders. I cannot do anything to manifest love for kindness, except to contribute a few minute pesos to relief efforts that able organizations have been putting together.
Prayer and a few pesos. These are all I can offer, wrapped in full trust in the sovereignty and grace of the God of all things.
In these darkest of hours, I fix my eyes and pin my hopes on HIM alone.