Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Pain in Compassion

Here in our ministry at LightForce, we are constantly being stretched into unknown areas and often fighting the feelings and thoughts that life can be/seem so unfair. Words that dance around in my mind are often words such as, unfair, unjust....etc.  Sometimes I feel the stories and lives that I encounter on a daily basis can relate well to the previous adjectives. In my own life, there have been situations and circumstances that would fit well in the category of unfair and yet, there is God. He is faithful, sovereign, but where is He when these unfair, unjust tragedies strike? Our whole team constantly aches over the whys sometimes. A view of compassion I wanted to share with all of our readers, is a view from the perspective of pain in the midst of God’s compassion. We have come to love and appreciate this view but it has not come without tears and trials.
 I have a friend who is currently serving in Afghanistan, as a Marine and he wrote something, well over a year ago that struck me.  When he wrote the below post, he was still in training prior to deployment. Although he and I are serving and fighting in different parts of the world, we relate well to our mutual battles and struggles. He wrote about compassion in a way that I thought was worth posting and described a side that is rarely viewed and discussed. My friend wrote:

“We were.... learning about Enemy Prisoners of War, how to search them and keep them safe in combat situations and keep yourself safe while you’re doing it. At the end of the class one of the NCO’s, a sergeant  told us a story that I’ll probably never forget.
He told us about an incident that happened to him in Iraq a couple of years ago. They had just shown up in theater and were getting set to take over control of some outpost somewhere and were told to look out for a little girl about 10 years old or so who comes around with her little brother. She comes around every day and sells DVD’s for like ridiculous deals to all the Marines. And if you know anything about life on deployment, it gets boring. So, what do you do when you cant leave? You watch a load of DVD’s.

This girl came around every day and sold DVD’s to the marines...... and over the next couple of months the marines there figured out that the girl’s dad was killed in the invasion and her mom was working and sent her and her little brother out to sell DVD’s to basically get by, they were struggling. So of course they would send the girl outta there with wads of cash pretty well every day.
It didn’t take too, long before somebody watching figured out that this girl and her little brother passed in and out of the security gate pretty well, unimpeded every day. They found her family and took her mom hostage telling her that they would slit her throat if the girl didn’t do exactly what they told her to do. So, the next day the girl wandered up to the gate like she did every day except instead of DVD’s this time her backpack was filled with 5 pounds of high impact plastic explosives and all sorts of rocks and stones and metal fragments. A marine called her over and as he unzipped her backpack to see what all she had to offer for the day some coward with a trigger switch watching about 100 meters away pushed a button and instantly vaporized four marines, the little girl and her brother, and wounded two others. The sergeant who told us this story had a scar on his face from bone fragment that had blown over 150 meters away to his position and caught him in the face.

Why am I telling this story. Well, one, I want to remind anyone who reads this, just what kind of enemy we are fighting. But the larger picture is that it made me think about God in a different way. We were told that story in reference to what types of security breaches get people killed and to be reminded always that “complacency kills.” So  what are our procedures from then on? What is the compassionate thing to do in that situation? You keep people like that away from you and your men. You treat the little girl like a suspect, fully knowing she’s innocent, and you make sure that your men know to yell and scream and do whatever it takes to make sure people know to keep their distance. All the little girl will know is that she is struggling and that all those marines are really mean, and all the marines will know is that no matter how much explaining you do as a commander, they still feel heartless when they do it.

Now, I hate that we live in a world that puts people in these situations, and that in the not too terribly distant future I will be the leader having to make a tough call like that, when all I will really wanna do is try to hold it together when I meet people who have it hard like that, especially little kids. And all you really wanna do is adopt that little kid and help her out anyway you freakin’ can, because, that’s how most of us view compassion. That IS compassion isn’t it? is it not helping the helpless? Well yes, but in this instance compassion really doesn’t look or feel very well like compassionate at all.

How often does God’s compassion result in what we think is a tough break? Getting fired? Not getting promoted, getting dumped, dumping someone else, failing a test, failing school, deaths in the family, death of a spouse, death of your child, losing a friend, feeling alone, feeling like you never get a chance to get ahead, and the list goes on and on. If things had gone the way they should have that little girl would have had no clue why all those military guys with guns are so mean, and as it follows I don’t think we usually get why life sucks so bad sometimes or why things never seem to work out the way we want either. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that maybe sometimes the worst forms of God’s wrath is that he lets you do whatever you want, and gives us over to all the things that our hearts think is good. Passive wrath is much more devastating that active maybe.

The training I’m going through is hard, yeah,  its the hardest this country can offer even sometimes, its designed to be. But through it I can feel fear become more manageable and less a factor in my decision  making, I can feel strength and confidence fill my bones, and all in all I know its making  me into something I’m very excited about. So I have no complaints, no reservations, and no gripes. In this instance God’s compassion took the form of rings of fire and trial to jump through, hardships to deal with, and not being able to see my family and friends when I want, among other things. Yet God is good for it. Sure it gets messy sometimes, and I’ll probably come out a little roughed up and singed around the edges, but which is better, this? Or finding a “safe” job somewhere and going to a bunch of bible studies?
I hope God’s compassion finds us all, whether we like it or not.