From Where I Stand, Helpless

As we witness the suffering of the Afghan people, what are we to do?

Jay Wintermeyer, North Pacific Union Conference
From Where I Stand, Helpless

Returning home from my nephew’s baptism this weekend, I turned on the radio to help pass the time. My mind drifted as I slogged through interstate construction traffic. All of a sudden, a woman’s voice wrenched me back to the present. Agony and fear telegraphed across thousands of miles from her phone to my car’s speakers. My boredom vaporized like the diesel smoke belching from the trucks in the standstill around me.

“To the world, it’s just a city that collapses, but to me, it’s not just a city. There are thousands of souls that collapse, there are millions of dreams that collapse — our history, our culture, our art, our beauty, our life collapse.”

Tearfully, the woman described the death of her beloved country via voice messages to a reporter from the New York Times. She chronicled what life has been like in the Afghani capital from Friday until Sunday, when the president fled the country and the Taliban seized control.

Sitting at home, worlds away from the nation in upheaval and turmoil, I feel helpless to do anything constructive. How can I change what two world superpowers have been unable to alter for decades?

As strange as the connection may seem, I’m reminded of another story of similarly epic proportions.

The Israelites were panicking, racing to escape the murderous Egyptian army. They stood on the edge of the Red Sea, helpless and terrified. In anguish, they called out to God.

Moses tried to encourage the Israelites by saying: “ ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm’ ” (Exodus 14:13, 14, NLT).

You and I live in a war zone, caught between good and evil. It’s evidenced by the powder keg in Afghanistan and so many other gut-wrenching examples of the great controversy between God and Satan. I don’t pretend to understand why God opened the Red Sea for the Israelites and why millions of others fall in this battle.

What I do firmly believe is that God works on behalf of people in hopeless situations. In this moment, I choose to believe that at His core, God is love. He loves all His created beings and is always working on our behalf.

I find comfort in how Jesus described God’s loving care. “What is the price of two sparrows — one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matthew 10:29, NLT).

Our world is broken. Sparrows fall, hearts break, and, tragically, people die. Through it all, God knows and sees. He’s promised that this agonizing human journey will not last forever. Tears and suffering will end (Revelation 21:4).

In this moment, when I feel powerless to help my fellow humans in Afghanistan, I call on the Lord of Hosts, who has promised to fight for us. I entreat my Deliverer and Defender to command the heavenly hosts to work mightily right now in ways I can’t even imagine to comfort and fight for the Afghani people.

I cry out. Father God, fight for Your people. Defend Your children.

The original version of this commentary was posted on North Pacific Union Conference news site. Jay Wintermeyer is North Pacific Union Conference assistant to the president for communication and Gleaner editor.

Jay Wintermeyer, North Pacific Union Conference