Devotional: December 7, 2020
The four kings captured all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, all their food and equipment, and went on their way. They captured Lot, Abram’s nephew who was living in Sodom at the time, taking everything he owned with them.
A fugitive came and reported to Abram the Hebrew. Abram was living at the Oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and Aner. They were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he lined up his servants, all of them born in his household—there were 318 of them—and chased after the captors all the way to Dan. Abram and his men split into small groups and attacked by night. They chased them as far as Hobah, just north of Damascus. They recovered all the plunder along with nephew Lot and his possessions, including the women and the people.
Genesis 14: 11-16 The Message
Today, December 7th is an important date in American history. Seventy nine years ago today the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and several thousand men and women were killed without provocation. Due to Covid concerns, as well as thinning ranks, this year’s ceremony at Pearl Harbor will be different. It will be a virtual celebration and the few remaining survivors who were eyewitnesses to what happened there in 1941 will not be there in person, although they may participate virtually. In spite of these changes, we as a nation can still think of, and pray for, all those who were affected by the tragic event.
As Christians, we believe in, and celebrate peace. We follow one who is called The Prince of Peace. Yet what about when an unprovoked attack has been carried out violently? What if innocent lives are taken?
The response of people of faith varies. Some are comfortable using force to right wrongs and defend the innocent. Others are not, taking more of a pacifist approach. Yet scripture does contain some examples of people of faith using force to undo terrible wrongs which occurred with terribly violent force.
Here, Abraham learns that his nephew Lot has been captured, along with all of his family, his possessions, and his community. Scripture does not record whether any lives were taken, but it appeared to be unprovoked. Abraham decided to right this wrongful power grab. He rescued Lot and his family.
We all know how our nation responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the event which pushed our nation from neutrality into war with Japan. Eventually, there was tragic devastation on both sides. Ideally, wars should be about righting wrongs, and bringing about peace. Once that is accomplished, peace can reign again. Almost eighty years ago, Japan was our enemy. Today, Japan is one of our closest allies.
Along with peace comes forgiveness, which is sometimes even a greater challenge. It is not always easy to forget the wrongs wrought against us. Yet, Christ has declared that he forgives our greatest sins, and our smallest. If we are recipients of such abundant grace, we need to realize that we, too, should carry that olive branch of peace to others.
Today, as we reflect upon our nation's history of creating peace after the attack on Pearl Harbor, may we also look at our own lives.
Do we carry grudges from our own history?
Do we accept Christ’s forgiveness, and yet not offer ours to others?
Let us celebrate the fact that Peace is the Lord’s ultimate goal for all of us. As we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace this Advent and Christmas season may we also prepare our hearts to sow seeds of peace where there may be turmoil.
Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace to all. Forgive me when I find joy in others' turmoil. Thank You for Your endless patience with me. May I be a messenger of Your peace, so that others may see the love and forgiveness You have for all, through my words and actions.
With a thankful heart, I pray these words in the name of Your son, the Prince of Peace. Amen