Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 8, 2017

The Dynamics of Trouble

Amman, Jordan

Jesus understood the dynamics of trouble. On one occasion, He urged Peter and the disciples to stop being “troubled” (John 14:1). Jesus used a particular word that described an ocean caught in the teeth of a storm. Storms have a way of tearing our confidence to shreds and leaving us fearfully clinging to any scrap of hope that can keep us afloat.

The Scripture is clear that trouble is a part of the human condition. No one is exempt from facing troubles. Today, however, our students came face-to-face with Iraqi Christians who understand better than we do what it means to be in trouble — serious, frightening, life-altering trouble.

As we visited with Iraqi families displaced from their homes by ISIS, each of our teams heard the same recurring theme — when ISIS arrived, trouble arrived. Each family passionately and tearfully told us their respective stories about how their lives were turned upside down. We sat spellbound as we listened to incredible stories of escaping ISIS in the nick-of-time.

I have heard more of these stories over the years than I can count. But today, three of the families that my team visited showed us before and after photos of the damage and destruction caused by ISIS. Each of these families lived in large, comfortable homes in northern Iraq. ISIS ran them off, looted their homes, stole their automobiles, and then wantonly destroyed the structures.

Some of the families had photocopies of the damage and others had cell phone pics. In each case the damage was extensive. And in each case the families said they are happy to have escaped with their lives, unlike some of their neighbors, but want nothing more than to leave this troubled and dangerous region. They are fed up with the violence that makes life here dangerous and unbearable.

Who can argue with them. After all, they want for their families what we want for our own families — the relative safety and security that can ensure them of happiness, opportunities for their children, and the prospects of a long and happy life. ISIS makes these basic and fundamental human rights unattainable. And so, the greater the distance they can create between themselves and these radical Islamists, the better their chances of mitigating the kind of trouble that threatens to tear them to shreds.

Once again, our students witnessed the collision of competing world views. Our presence brought smiles, tears of joy, gratitude, and the reminder that God is aware of and acts on behalf of those caught in the teeth of a storm. While the storms of damage, destruction, and death continue to rage, these families demonstrated a contrasting inner calm. They know that moving forward will be hard but want nothing more than to move forward.

ISIS has robbed these families of possessions but cannot keep them from looking in a new direction — one that leads toward hope. You can count on ISIS to take the world backwards, to leave their signature of death and destruction wherever they go, and to bring an ominous darkness with them. But death and darkness are no match for the God of light, life, and love who alone can calm hearts and quiet storms and who makes new beginnings possible.


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