How do you fight your crusade?
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17 (ESV)
My earliest memories of history lessons tell of King Richard I fighting for Jerusalem in the 12th century Crusades. I imagined this hero, Richard the Lionheart, with the English flag emblazoned on his tunic, fighting for God. It was much later, as an adult, I read about the atrocities on both sides of the Crusades. Blaise Pascal, the 17th century theologian and philosopher, wrote, ‘Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.’ Over the 400 years of this bloodthirsty conflict it is estimated that up to 9 million people, military and civilian, lost their lives. Many considered the crusades a ‘holy war’ and there are strong historical reasons for that. Nevertheless, the expression also often seems an oxymoron.
The word ‘crusade’ is now part of our vocabulary – we use it to describe campaigns and protests. I wonder what God thinks about ‘crusades’? Are we, His children, expected to fight on His behalf? Many centuries before the Crusades the Israelites faced a fearsome and mighty army – the Egyptians, who were gaining ground on them. Before the terrified Israelites was the Red Sea. There was nowhere to run. It seemed as if there was no choice – death seemed inevitable. Moses cried out to them, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14). We know how the story ends – God delivered His people.
This world today presents us with so many wrongdoings and injustices, we can become frustrated waiting for Jesus to return. What do we do in the interim? Chain ourselves to railings? Graffiti walls? March in the streets? Or, do we roll over in the face of wrongdoing? As Christians, it is crucial that we remember we have an even greater gift than protest – prayer.
We believe in God as our protector and provider. I am thankful that I can turn to my Father in heaven and cry out to Him saying, ‘Help. I cannot fix this wrong, but you can!’ I am grateful that God has helped me understand this.
Only by God’s direct intervention will the words ‘crusades’ and ‘injustices’ be eradicated from our language and our world. Thank you, Father in heaven!
Great wonderful God, thank you for giving us this wonderful tool of prayer, let us never diminish it and always trust in the effectiveness of it. Amen
Study by Irene Wilson
About the writer:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford congregation of Grace Communion International, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.
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