I Can’t Help but Wonder

The author of Ecclesiastes is particularly concerned to stress how difficult it is to discern where in the world God might be active, let alone discern just what God might be doing there. . .God’s creativity cannot be exacted from God. God remains creative at God’s free initiative. (David H. Kelsey, Eccentric Existence, 2009)

Far be it from me to propose with any specificity or certainty what God is doing under the visible current of history. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

It feels like movement. Away from war and toward finding a different solution. Maybe it’s just that the citizens of the U.S. and governments in western Europe are war weary. Or maybe it’s finally sinking in that our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have done little good; at best they’ve led to incremental progress for those countries. Perhaps it’s sinking in that any progress has come at an enormous and obscene cost, both in terms of human life and in dollars.

I have been in the minority who opposed our intervention in both of those countries, believing in both instances that the argument that it would make us safer was a specious argument. And even if that were true, to do so at the cost of the life of even one American soldier was too high a cost.

I find it a little disorienting now apparently to be in the majority, according to public opinion polls, a majority who opposes U.S. military intervention in Syria. And I find it also disorienting that large numbers of Congressional Republicans, typically hawkish on such matters, are saying “no”. Even if it’s just another way to say “no” to President Obama, I’ll take it.

Here’s what I find strangest of all: that the proposed diplomatic solution is coming from Russia, the perpetual thorn in the side of American foreign policy in the Middle East and the veto vote in the UN Security Council for military reprisals in Syria. I understand that they have a huge economic stake in propping up the Assad regime. But after weeks of assertions that there no more pathways to a diplomatic solution, that the only decision left was to bomb or not to bomb, suddenly the Russians, of all people, come up with a possible diplomatic solution. President Barak Obama, one of the very few who as a freshman senator voted against funding for George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, now is trying to drum up support for a bomb strike in Syria. He sits across the negotiating table from his Russian counterpart, a former high-ranking member of the KGB in Soviet Russia who has offered a more peaceful, less violent potential pathway out of the impasse. Strange indeed.

I can’t help but be reminded of the biblical accounts of Darius and Cyrus, kings of Persia who unwittingly became the redeemers of Israel, God using them to deliver God’s people out of exile and back to the Land. While I’m not suggesting a direct parallel, it is a reminder that God will get God’s work done.

It’s still so early in this conversation; I’m not sure anyone is certain that this latest proposal will be successful. Yet, it feels like movement.  Far be it from me to propose with any specificity or certainty what God is doing under the visible current of history. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

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