I am wondering how hard, how painful, how difficult it must be for so many right now, in these difficult days. Imagine training, preparing, sacrificing to attain your dream of becoming a – you fill in the blank – and then one day, finally reaching your goal, finishing your education and completing your training – you are now ready and able to go out into the world and make the positive difference you have dreamed about making for so long. You have sacrificed much to prepare yourself for your avenue of service and now you stand ready to help those who need your help. I’m thinking today especially about police officers, soldiers in all branches of our military, doctors and educators. Their training is so rigorous that it must discourage all but the most dedicated from continuing on toward their goal. Then imagine, if you can, being fully prepared, ready, willing and able to do the job that you’ve trained to do and then not being allowed to do the job you’ve committed your life to doing. I cannot imagine anything more disheartening, frustrating or demoralizing than this. I think of police officers here in my city who were told to watch while vandalism, arson, looting, theft and assaults took place, threatening and destroying lives and property. They are trained to prevent crime and to protect lives and property. That’s what they signed up to do. How hard it must be to be told not to do your job but instead to stand by and watch what is in your power to prevent take place. It must be hard to watch criminals go free while their victims are left to deal with the damage, death and devastation the lawbreakers have caused.
Likewise, it must be excruciatingly painful for our military not to be allowed to do the things they have trained to do and are capable of doing – actions that would preserve peace and protect people from terrorists’ takeovers by such groups as the Taliban. To have the ability and the will to protect people’s lives and keep them safe, and to not be allowed to do what you are trained to do, must be so hard. But our soldiers are trained to follow orders – even if that means people die when our military has the power to protect them but are not allowed to use that power.
I wonder if that’s how doctors have felt since COVID appeared, having to watch their patients die while there are medicines available that they are not allowed to use to treat their patients. To have the knowledge, the ability and the available medicines to help your patients and yet be told to withhold from your patients the medicine that could help them get well, must be so hard. Excruciatingly painful, I would think. Not to mention something that might keep one up at night. But then fear is a powerful motivator. No one wants to lose their job or their medical license which they worked so hard and long to earn at great personal sacrifice. It is hard to watch people die, but probably better to remain silent.
Likewise, it must be hard for educators today to be asked to teach young children about things they believe are adult issues and indeed until now, these things have been exclusively adult issues. It must be hard for educators to teach sexuality to kindergartners instead of colors, numbers, letters, animals, stories, songs and make-believe, the things of childhood, which passes all too quickly anyway. It must be hard for educators to teach skin color over character after so many years of trying to instill King’s vision of one’s character being what matters, not one’s skin color. It must be hard to witness the damage to students’ self perceptions and to their relationships take place right before these teacher’s eyes, as they daily remind their students they are victims or they are oppressors. It must be so hard for teachers to witness the harm they are doing to their students – but fear is a powerful motivator. No one wants to lose their job. Better to remain silent and comply.
Yes, fear is a powerful force which will control me if I don’t control it. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I don’t want to live the life God has given me full of fear. I would rather my decisions be the result of love and courage than the result of my fears. Still we are living in uncertain times and danger seems to surround us everywhere we turn. We are told to fear the virus, to fear each other, to fear our neighbors and our enemies, to fear anyone who looks different or thinks differently. And fear leads to hate. Nothing good comes from hate. The world is witness to that fact right now. What am I to do with all my fear? Psalm 118:6-9 reassures me with these words,
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 56:3-4 reminds me I don’t need to fear when I trust God,
“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”
Fearing man and not God will keep me in a constant state of anxiety and fear. Conversely, if I fear God, I have no reason to fear man. Instead I will experience God’s peace, which is not the same as the world’s peace, but something much better. Jesus spoke of it in John 14:27 when He said to His disciples,
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There it is again. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to let fear dictate how I live my life. Fear of other people’s opinions, fear of losing a job, fear of censure, fear even of losing one’s life, (which can happen to those who speak out against being asked to do what is wrong or dishonest) these are very real fears which can hold me or anyone captive, paralyzed and silent, watching evil have its way in the world. But Deuteronomy 31:6 tells me,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That’s all the reassurance that I need – God’s promise that He is with me and will never leave me. My Heavenly Father’s constant presence enables me to overcome my fears, to live with courage and conviction, pursuing truth and doing what is right in God’s eyes not in man’s eyes. I will keep the words of Colossians 3:23-25 before me,
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
it must be so hard to be told to do wrong when you became a police officer or a soldier or a doctor or a teacher or a medical records keeper or a judge or anything else, with the idea that you would do some good in this world. It must be so hard to stand down and watch things burn and people die, when you were trained to go in and to save –
it must be so hard to stay silent when you know the truth is being silenced along with you –
it must be so hard – to watch and to wait –
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)
oh that truthtellers would rise up and be silent no longer! it must be so hard –
sincerely, Grace Day