I have been spending the past few days thinking heavily on the massive, heart-wrenching crisis in Afghanistan. I am no expert in foreign policy or military matters, and I won’t pretend to fully understand or even communicate issues of foreign wars and decades-long alliance with a country fighting against darkness. All I know is that the United States has had a presence in Afghanistan for almost as long as I have been alive. I can’t remember a time where I was conscious that there weren’t discussions about the profound sacrifice of our armed forces.
I know that blood has been spilled and lives lost, that men and women who I will never know died to protect our nation and to give hope to a country in turmoil. I know that what we did mattered and that we did make a difference. I know that because we were there, because we worked with international allies and forged alliances with the Afghan forces we trained, people were saved. I know that this MATTERED, and that those sacrifices MEANT SOMETHING.
I know that because we were there, because those who choose to serve made sacrifices, little girls could go to school. Infant mortality rates plummeted, economic stability and the hope of a future stirred in the background. I know that the literacy rate has doubled, that a huge amount of the populace could access electricity. I know that because we kept a small amount of brave forces, that peace could have been maintained. I know that in South Korea, after achieving stability, our nation kept almost ten times as many soldiers 70 years later, to ensure peace in a country we allied with.1
I don’t know much about the ins and outs of current ideologies in the White House. I don’t know why the President lied repeatedly about the situation in Afghanistan or why he gave our armed forces less than three days to leave the country. I don’t know why he chose to evacuate during the high point of Taliban resistance, instead of waiting until the winter where a vacuum of power would have proved many times less devastating.2
I don’t know why he lied about the overwhelming warning he received from intelligence and from top military officials who informed him of how dire the situation would be for the Afghan people, let alone for us.3 I don’t understand why our Commander-in-Chief forced us to leave with such speed that our Afghan friends and allies woke to find their allies at the gate had abandoned them and left resources for the Taliban to use against them.4
I cannot grasp why Biden claimed that the Afghan government ran away from the fight, when the Vice President of Afghanistan bravely leads the birth of a guerilla resistance against the Taliban.5 I will never understand how he could screw everything up with such reckless abandon, and then leave for four days — only to give a twenty minute speech and retreat once more.
I do know that this didn’t need to happen. I do know that there are thousands of American and Afghan and British (I could keep going) veterans, contractors, interpreters and diplomats whose hearts are broken. I do know that the British government and others are actively talking about how they can no longer rely on trusting one nation as an ally.6 I do know that there are Christians in Afghanistan who are in terrible danger, that young women are in the most grave situation. I do know that because of the stupidity of one man, we put them in that situation. I do know that the White House doesn’t have a plan to save the thousands of Americans and pro-Western Afghans that are trapped under the iron fist of the Taliban — and may even leave those who are still trapped behind.7
I absolutely hate negativity and sadness. But there are times for mourning with those who mourn. There are times where we MUST look at tragedy, especially when it was preventable, and talk about everything. I do not know about policy or strategy or the inner workings of government decision making. I know wrong when I see it, and this was wrong. We have been shamed for no reason other than that one man wanted something on his political career checklist. The President has broken the trust of our military and the public authority we voluntarily (and sometimes reluctantly) give.
But we do not put our trust in princes. Even when they are good leaders, and especially when they are not. As the Psalmist says:
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God. (Psalm 146:3–5)
Despite this mess, we have tremendous hope. We are not reliant on weapons and soldiers to overcome evil, as much as we value and revere their sacrifice, but on the Almighty. The Psalmist also says that he puts no trust in his bow or his sword, but in the God who overcomes his enemies. Today, and as this season unfolds, we must throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the mercy and favor and provision of God, which is constant and worth every ounce of trust. We cannot trust this administration to be a source of peace or justice; we shouldn’t trust any government to do that for us, no matter how good, because human efforts always fail.
We say what the church of old said, when faced with the looming cloud of terrible violence against her. We say it for the West, and we say it for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, many of whom are prepared to meet their Lord. We say it because we need it:
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29–30)
We need boldness, and we need the hand of God. He hears and He mourns with us — but He has the power to redeem and save, to do the impossible. Only He can truly end wars. Only He can move upon the hearts of evil men and violent terrorists, where no amount of force or combat can stem the tide. ONLY He is completely trustworthy. The name of Jesus is the only name that can accomplish what Afghanistan, and the world, truly needs.
Our leader has shown that when the cards are down, he is not a man of honor or integrity, but a man who runs and blames. The book of Proverbs warns that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” and “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” (Proverbs 12:15 & 14:16) Wise advice is a gift from God, even when delivered from flawed and complicated and broken human beings — we must pray for leaders who will always heed it. A leader errs on the side of humility, but a fool blames everyone for their failures.
But we have hope. We don’t need to fret over the foolish in positions of leadership, because the God who crafted the very fabric of the universe, who fashioned wisdom at the dawn of time? He reigns. He is worthy of praise. He can be trusted with all else. The wisdom from Proverbs has many worthy observations about wisdom and foolishness, about good and bad leadership. With all the wisdom enshrined within, what is the most lofty, most important truth?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
When we cannot trust in leaders, human beings have a dreadful habit of falling to pieces, falling into rage and blame and sadness. We know that the Lord is worthy of all our trust, that He can bear our sins, our failures, our fears, and our longings for justice in our nation. It is right to grieve and to see pain and to grab hold of those who hurt. It is right to be angry with stupid human government. But we must let those natural, holy feelings turn us to the One we trust.
He saw the suffering of the people of Israel for generations, even at their own hands. He saw the threats laid against the former exiles in Jerusalem, and the cloud of violence threatening the newborn church. And He did something about it. He overthrew evil, he provided security and growth and miracle-working power. He gave His own Son and poured out His Spirit. He acts with perfect wisdom — he has a whole throne room of counselors and warriors and He doesn’t even need their input!
I don’t know what’s going to happen in Afghanistan. I don’t know if this will reignite years of conflict. I don’t know how the President will respond, or even if he’ll face just consequences for this failure.
I DO know that I have a God who sees, and knows. I have a God who answers prayers.
We have to trust Him, period. We must entrust our nation, our military, our history, and our allies to Him. Everything that matters is something He can bear with perfect wisdom and miraculous power.
Our President can’t be trusted — no man can be, not really.
But thank God, there is a Savior who kept His word, and who promised He’d come again. That Savior stands on the waves with wide arms and an even wider smile. That Savior walks battle lines far more vile and frightening than any we can imagine, and He wins. That Savior values the blood of the innocent, and the blood of those who die for them.
Trust Him, because He never fails.
“Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes — the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.” (Nehemiah 9:32)
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