Grief. A short word, that goes a long way. You are instantaneously flooded with feelings, thoughts, memories, attempting to take over the coastline you somehow created within yourself – your inner boundaries, even your sanity. A smell that brings back a memory from the past, then another sweet thought, followed by a painful one. “We were here together, played in this playground, he pulled my hair, and then we wrestled on the ground. Mom was upset at the sight of mud on our clothes, but dad just smiled and wrapped his arms around us.”
And then the wave washes back to the sea. Surprisingly. Just like it showed up.
A Day Of Mourning
Memorial Day of the Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims starts tonight. At 8 pm Israel time, a siren will be heard throughout the country for a full minute, and we will all stand at attention in their memory and honor, keeping our minds set on those we know: the neighbor that was killed in one of the wars; the childhood friend whose plane was shot down in another battle; the officer from our home town who was captured by Hamas and whose parents mourn over a grave that only holds his dog tags.
Tomorrow morning, ceremonies will be held in all the military cemeteries, and many of us will wear black, carry wreaths and share in our collective pain.
Does national solidarity help a mourning family? Does it ease the pain? I don’t fully understand its mechanism. Though Israel has suffered many battles, I, personally have never lost a loved one in war. My insights are second hand, based on what I hear from those who eloquently express with broken words the small moments, the lack, the amazing ability to move on even when a huge part of you is stuck somewhere behind.
Yoram Tahar Lev, a popular Israeli songwriter, expressed it well in two short lines:
“You are a land lost to me forever,
But your roots are already so deep inside me.”
This year I also find myself wondering: What is going on on the other side, across the border? How do bereaved families deal with it there? Again I am reminded of the image I saw (exactly a year ago), of the broken rift between us and our neighbors.
An image I saw about the Jordan Valley Rift, being a wound in God’s heart.
For more see Crossing Over – A Hebrewism (1)
New streams of blood were added this week to this rift, following the rockets barrage from Gaza and the Israeli strike in response. I remind myself that this bleeding rift is inside God’s heart, not outside of it. And that we are called to heal, not to deepen the wound, or scratch it so it bleeds even more.
How Can That Be Done?
By lifting our eyes above the sights flowing through the media, beyond what one side says and the other does in response. By lifting our eyes to Him. And listening to His heart on the matter.
What does He say? Scripture is full of great and precious promises in regard to our region. For every rocket shot, every missile launched on both sides, we can shoot with our own mouths arrows of precious promises, that will not return void and that no weapon can intercept.
The Root Issue
Following our recent elections in early April, I started praying mostly for justice and righteousness among our leaders. I pray that the priority of the Israeli authorities will be justice and righteousness. The unsettling conditions in our borders are not Israel’s root problem. They are simply one way in which God is drawing our attention to Him.
The warnings Isaiah sounded to the rulers and legislators of his time are still valid today:
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?” (Is. 10:1-3).
God has warned us time and again that disasters will be the result of neglecting to act justly and righteously, and of worshiping others besides Him. We continue to turn a deaf ear, so He turns His face and His protective Hand away from us.
But He also promises that if we act justly, that if our measuring lines will be based on justice, the fruit will be peace, and quietness and confidence forever. That we will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes and in undisturbed places of rest (see Is. 32:17-18). O, how we long for that.
The Rock of Israel
When David Ben Gurion, our first prime minister, foresaw the state of Israel (prior to 1948), he said that our fate depends on two main things: our strength and our righteousness. Being an atheist, God’s plan and promises were not a part of his vision. Which makes even more interesting his strong conviction that our existence depends on building a just nation and society. Not knowing The Rock of Israel, he still preached our destiny as a light to the nations, by building on that solid moral rock.
Dear Israel, it is time to forget the reproach of your widowhood, to let go of the garments of mourning and the shame of your youth, and to align your standards with those of your Husband and Redeemer, who bestows everlasting mercies upon you (see Is. 54:4-5, 8). As you prepare for your 71st birthday tomorrow, my blessing to you is that you will become a leader of the nations, that the light shining from us, from you, will spread righteousness throughout the globe, and will provoke jealousy in other nations, as they see the fruit we harvest due to these standards.
Abba, we long for the day in which all our sons will be taught of the Lord, and their peace will be great (v. 13). We declare by faith that as a part of the wonderful restoration of our people, your desire is to establish us on the foundation of justice and righteousness. You promise that if we steer away from injustice, we will not fear or be terrorized, and that tyranny and terror will not come near us (v. 13-14).
Moreover, Abba, I pray that by this foundation, the nations of the world will know us; let this be one of the strongest characteristics of Israel’s identity, something that the nations of the world will look up to and envy. Open the eyes of our leaders at all levels, and especially the new government, and stir a hunger and thirst in their hearts for justice, righteousness and truth to be the basis of each and every decision about to be made.