A thirteen year-old boy listens to a TV news story about ISIS. His mother looks on in horror at what her son sees. She does not want him to see these images of death. She has three other children to look after. In one moment of inattention the boy turned on the TV. The harder her son fights against the tears more come.
The mother runs to the TV and shuts it off. She holds her son in her arms. He is shaking from the trauma of seeing what his mother did not want him to see. The boy breaks free. He is filled with sadness and anger. He wants comforting, but he is also angry at God. He runs upstairs to his room and shuts the door. He needs time alone to process all he has seen, all the terrible things no child of thirteen should ever have to see, all the things none of us should ever have to see.
The boy starts talking with God.
“Father, I don’t understand why people do these awful things. There is so much hate in this world. Why do You allow children who have done nothing wrong to be raped and murdered?
I hate the world I’m living in! Children should be able to play and laugh. They should not have to live every day in fear that a terrorist could kill them, their parents or their friends.
My father is one of the Air Force pilots doing air strikes against ISIS in Syria. Please keep him safe. Oh, God, I don’t want to lose him! I love him so much! I want to be an Air Force pilot like him when I grow up.”
The child’s tears keep coming. The mother wants desperately to comfort her son. She feels helpless to console him. She goes upstairs to his room. Jonathan hears her coming and locks his bedroom door. She says to her son through her own tears, “Jonathan, please let me in. Please let me in!”
The boy calls out to his mother, “Mom, I just need some space right now. There’s nothing you can do. I’ll be okay. Really, I will.”
The mother goes downstairs. There are three other children to look after. The boy continues his talk with God.
“Lord, why can’t people learn to live in peace? Those children in Syria and Iraq did nothing wrong. They are so young. Why did they have to die?
It’s getting rough to be a Christian. Some of the kids at school laugh at me because of my faith. They tell me I am stupid for believing in You. I am so sick and tired of them making fun of me and beating me up, that I just want to beat them all up!
My Sunday School teacher says that we are called to love our enemies. I hate ISIS! If I was an Air Force pilot I would kill every one of them. They are so evil.
Where is all the love in this world? What kind of world will there be for me when I grow up? Will there be any world at all?
I just don’t understand why it’s so important for countries to have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times. You can only destroy the world once.
There are so many starving children in the world. Why can’t we put more money into solving the problem of poverty?”
The boy wipes his tears from his eyes. He must be strong. His mother must not see him cry. He must be the man with his father being away.
He gets up from kneeling by his bed. He goes downstairs still shaking, pretending everything is okay.
The mother sees her son coming down the stairs. She prays and asks God what she should say to her son or if she should say anything at all.
She goes to her son fighting back her tears, fighting back her fear that her husband could be killed in one of the air strikes, and says holding her son as she cries, unable to hold back the tears any longer, “Jonathan, it’s okay to cry. You know how your father cries when we see one of those romantic movies you say are so sappy. Your father is a strong man. He is also a sensitive man. Jonathan, never lose that beautiful heart of love you have. There are so many hurting people in the world, who need so much love right now.”
The mother strokes Jonathan’s hair. The tears come as liquid prayers that his father won’t be killed. He prays all of us would be more loving and kind to each other. He asks for a stronger faith to be a Christian when the kids at school make fun of him for believing in God.
Then, he feels in his heart a deep peace unlike he has ever known. Could this be peace from God’s Spirit? He’s not sure, but it’s a peace he cannot understand. His mother, father and Sunday School teacher teach him about the peace that passes all understanding, that can be there for all of us if we ask for it. He feels it himself for the first time.
There is a call to his heart that says, “Jonathan, all through your life you will have questions about all kinds of things. You want to know why husbands, fathers and children are being killed in Syria, Iraq and all around the world. You ask why there is so much hate in this world. You want to know why there is so much focus on building up nuclear weapons instead of solving the problem of poverty.
You have so many questions and no answers. Jonathan, so many people in the world want the kind of world you pray for, where we all love each other. They want a world where there are no terrorists, who are filled with so much hate. They want a world where their children can go to school without being laughed at because they are Christians. They hope for a world where a Christian is not attacked on facebook because of their belief in God. They desire a world where Christians aren’t told they are stupid because they believe in God.
You don’t want your father to die. Your prayer is that he comes home, so you can run to him, hug him and tell him how much you love him.
Jonathan, all through your life you will have questions about your faith and all that you think is wrong with this world.
In Sunday School do you remember when your teacher gave a lesson on good and evil? She said that when people go their own stubborn way and refuse to listen to what they know in their heart is right, that darkness goes into their hearts. Jonathan, that’s why all the bad things are happening in the world. People are allowing seeds of hate to grow inside of them. The seeds grows like a virus spreading through their mind, body and spirit. If the person keeps hating the virus eats away at them like the parasite you are learning about in your Biology class.
Hate is the parasite to love. When a person hates and keeps on hating the parasite gets stronger as it feeds on the life of love in their heart. If the person doesn’t stop hating, all that hate slowly kills love.
Jonathan, always love others as God calls you to love them. Your mother needs you so much right now. She is so afraid your father is going to be killed. There is a hate of ISIS growing inside of her like that parasite. Jonathan, your Lord is giving you a really tough calling. You are being called to show love to everyone who hurts and abuses your trust throughout your life. Know in your heart that the God you love with all your heart, mind and soul will be with you. He’ll give you the words to say when you have none of your own.
Your first assignment is to show love to your mother. Jonathan, tell her about what I said about the parasite. She will understand because your loving Father will give you the words to say.
Jonathan, a few more thoughts before I go. Love people through their questions. Love those kids at school who tease you because of your faith. Love those who don’t believe in Me. Shine your light inside of you into lives that have the parasite of hate living inside of them.
You won’t solve all the problems in this world. But what you can do is be one of the Lord’s lights in the darkness and pain of people’s lives. That has a power in it ISIS or anyone can’t defeat.
One day there will be a new world where all hate will die. People will destroy the weapons of war. They will learn to live in peace because all hate inside of them has died.
Jonathan, love your mother through all her questions. Don’t let the parasite of hate kill the love inside of her. Squeeze her tight and never stop loving her.”
The heart talk with God ends as the Spirit leaves.
Jonathan gives his mother a great big teddy bear hug. He offers his mother the gift of his tears. The tears fade away as a peace inside unlike he has ever known replaces his fear. Jonathan smiles at his mother and says, “Mom, you, Dad and me just have to keep loving and believing through all our questions. Hate is the parasite to love. God doesn’t want the hate you feel inside for ISIS to kill the love inside of you.”
Suddenly, the mother’s tears stop. She feels a deep peace inside of her that she knows comes from God. She smiles through her own inner pain as she says, “Jonathan, you gave me the words I needed to hear. Your heart is closer to God than mine is now. I am filled with so much hate for ISIS. The Lord has used you to teach me that love is the greatest weapon we have against hate. Let’s share this story with your father in a video that I’m sure he will want to show to his buddies. We all need to love through our questions. I think that will bring not just your father, but all the other pilots, officers and soldiers some much-needed comfort.”
That is all any of us can do right now — keep loving through our questions.