The clock ran out after twenty years in Afghanistan. Ten years too late. Pushed out by, according to Obama, the “JV” Taliban. We’re told all US troops are out, according to CenCom General Frank McKenzie, who dared to brag about the Taliban’s help. Sadly, we don’t know how many Americans are left behind. In a Republic seriously divided, politically and philosophically; succor’s in short supply today.
It’s troubling to our allies and NATO partners, watching in disbelief at the inept and deadly decisions made about this Afghan withdrawal. Those left behind face death’s inevitability since our government granted legitimacy to an unelected Afghan body-the Taliban-as Joe Biden danced to their timeline. The same blundering buffoon, who was VP during Benghazi, oversaw the bloody train wreck in Afghanistan. This ending has our allies skeptical and our enemies emboldened.
Most troubling is that this tragedy was avoidable, despite Biden’s denial otherwise. Many anticipated a blood bath and carnage, as the White House chose the teat of the Taliban for nurture. Biden’s foreign policy, with unbridled deference to our enemies, will predictably lead to our troops around the world being more vulnerable than ever to enemy attacks. Thirteen American families live’s are forever altered after their door bell rang. Biden’s legacy is forever sealed. Wyoming’s own U.S. Marine, Rylee McCollum took his last breath in Afghanistan.
At first glance there appears to be no silver lining to this preventable tragedy from our mortal plane. We now know there’s a vibrant underground church that has been sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Christ to Muslims for decades. Eternity is its’ heritage. Only God can unravel this apparent web of complexity. Worldwide, many continue praying fervently for those “left behind.” That term has a lonely, beguiling sound to we who watch from afar in relative comfort. What’s next on the horizon?
Existentialist Soren Kierkegaard’s theology was surely unorthodox, yet his observation’s irrefutable, “Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer.” Prince or pauper, sparks will fly. War, family tragedies, natural disasters, pandemics, protests, economic upheaval, and political division, press us on every side. Some say it’s the bitter fruit of life in this chaotic fallen world. Was this Afghan disaster part of a calculated diversion from the assault on our liberty here in America by unseen forces? Has God orchestrated such a time and events to get our eyes off circumstances, regardless of how jarring it is to our senses, and look to Him for answers beyond our mortal domain?
This Progressive Socialist leaning administration has used January 6th, and COVID to cudgel Americans into submission with the plan of “vaccinating every American” and identifying Trump supporters as terrorist and “threats to national security.” Patriots are convinced it has opened the door for “mandated vaccination” for all Americans, or else; denial of basic goods, services, healthcare, banking, commerce, air and interstate travel; and our God-given liberties. Hospitals are bullying employees to choose: A jab or a job? It’s in Casper, Wyoming, Dickinson, North Dakota, Chicago and beyond.
Our culture’s increasingly hostile to the possibility of Divine intervention. However, when the national conversation turns to nations like Iran (Old Persia) Jerusalem, and Russia (Is it Gog in Ezekiel 38), it becomes more appealing when inexorable events, with eschatological links to the Bible are renewed. Such is the case every time Americans are drawn to, or threatened by war, loss of liberty, natural disasters, or when we’ve once again become too big for our breeches, before the God, who has spoken in space and time before about our propensity to forget Him and His ways, with predictable consequences. Never trivialize forgetting God. (Psalm 9:17)
True, comfort’s a rare and inestimable commodity. It may masquerade itself for a season as affliction. C.S. Lewis inimitably said, “In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for comfort you will get neither comfort or truth-only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with, and in the end, despair.” It’s no surprise that there are those who’re unwilling to face the storms and vicissitudes of life, to brave the battle, exposing their soft underbelly, leaving them vulnerable and miserable. Affliction knows our address.
The comfort of choice of mortals is as diverse as the affliction itself. Some find solace in a book. Music doth soothe the savage soul. Others clutch their pet. Distress, anxiety and suffering drive some to the drug of choice. The degree of cheer or comfort may be transient. In the fiction world, Beatrix Potter, in her classic, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” describes a not other-worldly remedy, “Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made him some chamomile tea: One table-spoon to be taken at bedtime.” Smart rabbit. Our race is most adept at finding temporal potions and elixirs. Most have expiration dates, and a short self life.
To the casual observer of Biblical Christianity, Jesus is often mischaracterized as either a full-time comforter or a harsh afflicter. Neither are true. He comforts as only He can. He comforted the woman trapped in adultery, forgiving her, and told her to “go and sin no more.” Conversely, the Pharisees were denounced with a scathing rebuke, designed to afflict, characterizing them as hypocrites, evincing their feigned purity as whitened sepulchers. A harsh dose of truth was administered. Unvarnished affliction. Their only comfort was clinging to their traditions that trumped the Law, that gave them unauthorized power.
Not surprising, we too seek a place of comfort and respite from conditions that assail us and disrupt our reverie. Most parents eventually learn that a constant dose of comfort is counterproductive to a balanced, healthy offspring-at risk of rearing a self-indulgent, layabout, turned loose on unwary onlookers. We must prepare them for affliction that will come as surely as the sun rises tomorrow. It’s easy to conflate the need to comfort and taking away pain. Comforting a parent after the loss of a child doesn’t abrogate the pain. Comfort simply pulls up a chair beside the pain, until it ends. A hand on the shoulder transcends language barriers. Nearly anyone qualifies.
Universally known, the 23rd Psalm wasn’t penned in “sunny valley.” Verse four sets the context, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” It was His presence that comforted the shepherd boy, not the environment. God comforts us not to make us comfortable, but to permit us to be comforters to others. We’ve heard accounts of victims from mass shootings reporting that nothing prepared them for such an event. Still in their fog of disbelief, someone came to comfort them at their greatest time of need, found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
Average citizens are easily distracted by quotidian events, while navigating this circuitous path on planet earth. Even in the heat of battle to defend our God-given individual liberty, we’ll need comfort to muster strength to stay in the fight. What of the existential threats from Communist China, Iran or Russia? Some are now convinced our gravest threat is internal from our own rogue government. No matter how many times we’ve read the Founders warnings about the loss of virtue, too many Americans have been duped by an ever burgeoning centralized government, and the concomitant enslavement that ensues when surrendering to “free” allurements and fear tactics.
Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with that comfy, cozy corner or nook, where it feels good to us, augmented by our favorite beverage. However, we weren’t created for a reclusive life, immune from calamity or joy. Refrain from prolonged stays at the therapist’s couch, or dulling one’s senses with prescription drugs or opioids. “Safe spaces” become a bunker from life. Neither wealth or life’s privilege are any assurance of solace. When one’s conflicted about which to seek-comfort or affliction-it’s not an either or proposition. It’s a fact they sell Lazy Boy rockers. They sell Total Gyms too. We needn’t spend time on only one. One’s for our comfort. The other for our affliction.
It’s understandable in chaotic times to lack the wisdom to know what one needs, how much, how often, or when. That’s His realm. In this world of uncertainty, finding rest for one’s soul is compelling. In the midst of burdensome affliction, Jesus hastens us to seek His comfort. There’s a nostrum for this predicament. In our bareknuckle, real world, one discovers, it demands the radical unmasking of quixotic sophistry, that offers an escape ramp to nowhere. God will not be mocked. It’s too bad to be true. It only adds delusion to the pain. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org