Notes from Jan

Toothless and Blind

October 14, 2023

Remember? That’s what Teyve said in Fiddler on the Roof. If we repay an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, “Soon the whole world is blind and toothless.”

Hamas calls for “a day of rage.” Israel pummels Gaza. What Hamas did was barbaric and evil. But Israel, while having a right to defend its citizens, also needs to abide by international law to protect the innocent. The issues are complex. The politics confounding. The hatred palatable. The weeping unending. And the fear paralyzing.

But I’m just a grandmother writing on a subject I know too little about. But I do know, in the long run, guns and bombs never resolve the heart issues. And talking, listening, negotiating for the greater good work better than retaliating and burying children on both sides who never got a chance to flourish.

Last night I listened to Brooks and Capehart on PBS. David Brooks reminded us that we didn’t respond well after 9/11. Terrorism didn’t go away. It morphed into more cells, more hatred. Revenge and retaliation don’t work in the long run.

So what now? Weep with those who weep all around this hurting world. Pray for leaders who decide how to respond. Feed the hungry. Care for the sick and hurting. House the homeless. And love one another, no matter what. See people as people, not headlines or places on a map too far away to matter.

Why? Because it all matters to God. People matter to God. Listening to understand matters. And when we talk among ourselves, to take care concerning how we speak or joke about people who differ from and with us. Kindness isn’t weakness. And remember Grace is way more than a mumbled prayer before we eat.

And speaking of prayer,

Lord, have mercy.

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  • Reply Evelyn Morgan October 14, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    “What will you do with Jesus?” Isn’t that the root of the problem?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 15, 2023 at 8:47 pm

      I think the root of the problem goes back long before Jesus, dear Evie.

  • Reply Dale October 14, 2023 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks Jan, but I need to reflect on your perspective a bit more. I am aware of your theology but also of the men, women and children God slaughtered who had offended His people Israel – and you know and have read these accounts as well. I am NOT suggesting present Israel is the same today, but I do believe a Jewish nation will be preserved and according to God’s will and not based on their personal righteousness. Saul killed his thousands and David his 10,000 and not because they were always obedient to God but because He always was and will be faithful to them. More thought and prayer needed at my end. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 15, 2023 at 8:57 pm

      And I am not suggesting Israel do nothing but I pray for wisdom on how and when they take action. And how we and other countries work together to support Israel and care for innocent Palestinians and others who suffer when nations go to war. And like you, my brother Dale, I need “more thought and prayer.” When Hamas calls for ” a day of rage”, we need to counter with days of prayer.

      • Reply Dale October 16, 2023 at 7:03 am

        Thanks Jan. As Hamas probably cares less about the Palestinian people than Israel does (told them to stay because they wanted them as human shields) it is difficult to provide restraints when those in occupation only provoke more war. And when Iran and most countries who surround Israel want nothing more than their total demise, a path for peace seems hard to find. I am not sure what the “high road” would be that does not bury Israel deeper into tragedy and annihilation. I am sure there were many innocent Philistine parents and children who lost their lives to Israel’s invasions and trust I will see them in God’s kingdom due to His mercy. Dale

        • Reply Jan Carlberg October 16, 2023 at 9:01 am

          Totally agree that what Hamas did and wants to still do is evil and there are those suppoting Hamas and the other terrorist organizations who want Israel dead and gone. And us, too. Yes, Hamas is using innocent people as human shields. and why they’re urging Palestinians to not leave or closing off exists. And you and I both know that peace at any price is not peace…or, at least, not for long. I don’t know what the high road is either, my dear brother. So that is why I end up praying, Lord, have mercy. As for who ends up in heaven, it may be shocking.

  • Reply Roger Perkins October 15, 2023 at 2:52 am

    Jan, thank you. Yes, those with greater power tend to overreact and justify themselves because they can. We’ve done it in the past and it never goes well.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 15, 2023 at 9:11 pm

      So true, dear Roger. And sometimes Christians, in support of israel, forget we have Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ living in Gaza and suffering terribly. Hatred is contagious. Jesus experienced hatred, was “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Still it was Jesus who knew the place for righteous anger but who also taught, “love your enemies.” I don’t know how to advise anyone on the specifics of how to do that but I do know that,as you wrote, “those with greater power tend to overreact and justify themselves… we’ve done it in the past and it nevergoes well.”

    • Reply Dale October 16, 2023 at 2:43 pm

      Who ends up in heaven is easy: redeemed sinners like me and like any member of Hamas who confesses Jesus as the Christ and as their personal and only redeemer. Love, Dale

  • Reply Bill Hausman October 15, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Jan, for your balanced and grace-filled words, reminding us to pray for, and stand with, the victims on both sides of this historic, terrible conflict. The violence of terrorism and war never seems to be an effective means to a world of justice for all and peace among those who God loves.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 15, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks, dear Bill, for reading and responding to the blog. Justice and peace are hard to come by but not something to stop working towards. Especially for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. It’s easy to think God loves us and the kind of people we like. But the heart of the gospel is “For God so loved the world.” It was probably for many children who grew up in Christian families the first Bible verse they learned. John 3:16. And one of my first Sunday School songs was “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” It’s too easy to forget no matter which side we’re on.

  • Reply Wendy October 22, 2023 at 8:36 am

    Such good thoughts Jan. We are praying everyday for Israel and Gaza. We have a dear friend at church who has family in Gaza. So, so horrible. We were supposed to go to Israel next week, we know people there from our church as well and have heard their hearts from day one of this awful war, its beyond hard.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 23, 2023 at 1:00 pm

      SO deeply alarming and sad, dear Wendy. I have family in Israel and we’ve had Gordon students who are Palestinians. In Community Bible Study we’re studying Ephesians. We are being reminded about “neither Jew nor Gentile, male or female.” You know the passage about God’s heart and plan, expressed through the apostle Paul, for us to be One. And so we pray for The Church around the world, for Gaza, the innocents caught in the middle of agendas by those who couldn’t care less about who gets hurt or killed, and for israel. Peace feels impossible but then I remember. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possiuble.'” Matthew 19:26
      Lord, have mercy.

      • Reply Wendy October 23, 2023 at 2:04 pm

        Such a wonderful reminder Jan – Yes! With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible! Help us Lord we pray!!

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