By Dr. Harold Sala
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyonefor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1Timothy 2:1-2
One of the frustrating things about a world in conflict is the feeling that we have lost control of our lives and our futures. Like pieces of chaff blown with the winds of war, our lives seem to be at the mercy of forces which we cannot control. We don’t like it, yet there is little that we can do. Or are there some things that we can do? How should we respond in times of war?
I’d like to share with you five positive steps which you can take to help in times of crisis.
Guideline #1: Pray directly and specifically that wisdom and sanity may prevail in a world that seems to have gone mad. In Paul’s day, the presence of Roman soldiers was common as he made his way throughout the Mediterranean. With their short doublebladed swords, the Roman cohorts had brought a kind of peace on the world which was often enforced by tyrants who were hated by their subjects.
The New Testament at least four times mentions centurions who played out roles in the drama of the New Testament. Paul did not rebuke them or ask them to forsake their careers, but he did lay down specific instruction to young Timothy as to how we believers in Jesus Christ are to respond to times of war and conflict. He says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyonefor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1,2).
Guideline #2: Turn to God as your refuge and help in the time of need. An old soldier, David, King of Israel, wrote, “…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2, KJV). Make a study of the passages of Psalms 46 and 91 which tell us that God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. The 46th Psalm, in particular, seems to describe our world today, a world in which the whole social structure seems upset and chaotic.
Guideline #3: Put your trust in the goodness of God as opposed to the strength of military hardware. Again quoting the old warriorsoldier of Israel, David wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). I suppose today David might have said, “Some trust in Stealth jet bombers and Patriot missiles, but as for me we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God.”
Immediately after the SixDay War of June 6, 1967, I was in Israel and took a tape recorder to interview people whose lives had been affected by the war. “How do you account for such a great victory?” I asked people. Almost without exception, they said, “It was God who gave us the victory!” Two years later, I returned and asked the same question, but this time the answers were different. “It was our superior military strategy,” or “It was our courage,” or “It was our weapons,” but not once did anyone say, “God was the one who gave the victory.”
Guideline #4: Trust God for peace to end the conflict. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14) is the counsel of Scripture. War is the closest thing akin to hell that our world has ever seen, as families are torn apart, lives are destroyed and endless destruction takes place. Though war is preferred to bondage or annihilation, there are no winners and no losers, only survivors.
Guideline #5: Support each other as part of the family of God. This means, pray for each other, love one another and bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of love.
Resource reading: Romans 12:9-21.