Rev. Peter Smith: Where was God during Hamas attacks in Israel?

Published 12:24 am Thursday, October 12, 2023

Honestly, I had not planned to write about this, but the Hamas attack on Israel dictated otherwise.  Already, this terrible aggression is the latest and most terrible in a long line of aggressions in the burning conflict between Israel and Palestinians.  The tragedy, the horror, and the complexity are only going to get worse.  Given the severity of what will be the Israeli response, it could even be over with great cost by the time that you read this.  What will be obvious, however, is that more and more lives will be lost.  

Where is God in all this?

Psalm 46:1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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This is our prayer for those caught in the middle of this senseless violence.  It makes no difference whether they are one people or another.  Anyone swept into this trouble needs our prayer for God’s strong help.  Those working for the safety and refuge for all of God’s children should also be in our hearts because they reflect God’s heart.  

Psalm 46:2-3Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

There is a power greater than this war, the war in Ukraine, the war in Sudan, or in any of the far too numerous conflicts raging in the world today.  We can fear for the lives of those involved, but this war cannot change our future as God’s children.  It cannot undo God’s purpose for all people to realize God’s glory.  There will always be hope in God.

Psalm 46:9-11He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

In fact, we lose sight of the larger judgment of God who calls to account all who unleash such disregard for life in the pursuit of political ambitions.  There is one God, and this one God has no desire for anyone to go to war against another.  Powerlessness is ours as our sisters and brothers become collateral damage in a conflict like the one in Israel that should have been resolved generations ago.  Anger is ours for the injustice and unrighteousness of world powers crushing rather than helping.  Fear is ours for a world becoming more and more directed by bad actors.  

Can faith also be ours, though, as we call to God to be a refuge and strength for all of our sisters and brothers?  We need a better world for which there is one answer.

Rev. Dr. Peter C. Smith
Farmville Presbyterian Church