Tears for Timbuktu

News that Timbuktu had been freed from Taleban insurgents was accompanied  by gruesome photographs of the suffering war inflicts. Then came a report that the famous library was in flames. Who today will not shed tears for Timbuktu? Of course people are more important than things, but the destruction of an irreplaceable cultural legacy is also a cause for tears. We have seen the same story repeated over and over again. It seems it is not enough to destroy human beings, their history must also be burned or smashed out of existence.

It is at such times that I believe praying for peace takes on it most profound level of meaning. We are not weakly asking for all the nastiness to go away; we are not kidding ourselves that prayer exempts us from action; we are deliberately and knowingly accepting into ourselves something of the horror and tragedy of war and asking God to transform it. The Romans used to say that anyone who desires peace should prepare for war. The Christian who desires peace must invite God into the depths of human misery and grief, that He may bring peace where there is none. Left to ourselves, we can do nothing.

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