Not the Summer of Fun

August 2014

My eyes are worn out from weeping; my stomach is in knots.
My heart is poured out on the ground due to the destruction of my helpless people;

children and infants faint in the town squares. 
Children say to their mothers, “Where are food and drink?” 
They faint like a wounded warrior in the city squares. 
They die slowly in their mothers’ arms. 
Lam 2:11-12

This has not been a summer of fun for many around the world.  Even though most entered this summer’s break as a time of vacation, the citizens of the world were constantly reminded of the suffering of others by a seemingly constant barrage of bad news on the internet.

Here in Israel, the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teenagers, followed by the continuing war with Hamas in Gaza has replaced summer entertainment with summer mourningfor many.  In Gaza, nearly 2,000 have died and many more injured, as well as thousands of homes and properties decimated; 67 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have fallen during the operation against the Hamas rocket launchers and tunnel attacks.  Currently in Cairo, there are attempts at negotiations, but so far nothing too hopeful.  Even more, relations between Israel and the United States' White House and State Department are at a low point recently.

Many tourists from Holland and other countries were looking to enjoy a summer holiday or conference, but their plans of mirth were cut short by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukrainian airspace.  All 298 aboard flight MH17 died and political tensions between Russia and the West have increased as a result.

A nightmare plague, Ebola, has struck West Africa.  More than 1,000 have died, but it is fearedwithout an immediate, massive response from the world community, this frightening virus may leave a staggering death count.  On a positive note, Christians have been on the frontline battlingthis epidemic, even sacrificing their lives.

And finally, the plight of innocents in northern Iraq and Syria has become headline news with the genocidal intentions of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), an extremist Sunni jihadist group which has sought to kill or convert all in its path.  Horrific videos and images of their wicked work proliferate on the internet.  Recently, the massacre of Christians and Yazidis has been widely reported in the press.  This past week American jets struck at ISIS forces that had surrounded 30,000 to 50,000 Yazidis who were dying of thirst hedged in on a mountain.

Every year during the summer on Tisha B’Av, the Jewish people remember the destructions of their temple, first by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) and last by the Romans (70 A.D.).  For religious Jews, it is a time of fasting and remembrance; all pleasurable activity is forbidden. Fittingly, the book of Lamentations is read in the synagogue.  As we reflect on our world today, as summer has reached its summit in 2014, may our prayers be honest, earnest, and specific.  As followers of Jesus, we are salt in this world.  Let us not neglect our spiritual duty (Rom 12:1-5).