Do you recall the emotional climate of America following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? The country was in mourning. But not everyone. There were some religious leaders who immediately got into the blame game.
“This was a judgment from God for America’s godlessness and perversion,” some preachers claimed. “If America continues to forget God, then they should not be surprised when calamity hits them. America’s only reaping what they’ve sown.”
But their message did not bother me as much as their tone and attitude. The undercurrent of their message was one of “I told you so.” They expressed no love for their country nor grief over its suffering. There was almost a sense of satisfaction over America’s tragedy.
Is that the proper attitude of the godly, of the person who loves God, but also loves their country?
Consider, for a moment, the great prophet Jeremiah. In one sense he was fiercely zealous for God and grew sick over his people’s disregard for God’s Law. On the other hand, Jeremiah was completely loyal to his nation and and his heart broke over the calamity that awaited it. Often called the weeping prophet, he was a man who was inwardly torn apart over his passion for God and over his love for the people God was about to judge.
“Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!
I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jer. 8:21–9:1).
A Broken Heart
There was no “I told you so” attitude in Jeremiah’s heart. The fate of his people weighed heavy on his heart and soul. And that’s the way God wanted him to be. God did not permit Jeremiah to become emotionally detached from the suffering of the people God was punishing. God wanted Jeremiah to share in His own brokenness and emotional pain—pain created by His love for Israel and the inescapable demand to punish them for their sins.
What a stark contrast there was between God and His prophet and those American preachers who wagged their finger at their own grieving nation! The broken-heartedness of Jeremiah (and of his God) is the proper response and attitude. None of us should be unmoved by the suffering of those around us and the nation from which we benefit.
Of course, someone will say, “What’s that got to do with true believers and the United States of America? Israel was the covenant people of God. They were truly His people who God called out of all the nations. America is just one of many nations. Even if America is the most powerful nation, but it doesn’t qualify as God’s people. What allegiance do I owe to America? Isn’t America part of the world and am I not called to be separate from the world?”
Tomorrow, we will answer this question.
Dear Father in heaven, please make me an instrument of Your peace and healing today. Help me to bear the burdens of those around me and to pray for their welfare and salvation. Help me to be a channel of Your love—in my home, community, and country. Amen.
In article photo: The American flag flies over Naval Station Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. Navy licensed under U.S. Govt. Work