Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reaction to the News

"Death of a Dictator" "Hussein Hanged" "Death at Dawn for Saddam Hussein"

These are the headlines now flooding websites, television and tomorrow's newspapers. It is a day that has been long waited for by millions with many wondering if it would ever happen.

I am conflicted. I have been hearing about the impending execution for the last few days and then began hearing that the execution would occur within days or even hours. I told God I did not know how to pray for this. Now that the execution is completed, my one prayer is for safety and prevention of the possible backlash.

Here is my conflict. On one hand, I still remember the Sunday morning that I was getting ready for church and seeing on the news that they had caught him. After his disturbing trial, I was thrilled when Hussein was declared guilty and his death and end of his ugly reign would be soon. What he did or allowed to be done was nothing less than evil and sickening. He deserved nothing less than execution and honestly deserved a lot more.

But then there is the other hand. As much as I agree with his execution, I am trying to figure out my response as a Christian. Should I, and other believers, respond with happiness that a man went to his death without knowing the true God? Should I be happy that he is gone, knowing that he will spend an eternity in hell? Some would say yes because he tortured so many people and thus should be tortured in hell. I don't think that is right though, because the agony of hell and an eternal separation from God is beyond our understanding and I do not believe that should be wished on someone regardless of who they are. So, would I be content with the execution had Saddam become a Christian in his last days? I don't know. I do know though that I do not deserve eternity with God any more than he does. Our difference is that my sins have been forgiven because I have chosen to believe in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. My life as a Christian is to be about making God known and I should not be content with anyone not knowing Him because God is not.

But, then again God allowed others to die so that more may live and the Bible is clear about the correctness of punishment, including death sentences,. This is what leads me to be satisfied with the execution of a dictator who caused terror and distruction for decades. I'm still not content with the death of a person who never chose to have a relationship with God though and I think that is okay, regardless of who the person is.

My husband says one of his favorite things about me is my compassion. It is what he (an I) believes makes me a good counselor. Maybe that is why I have a sadness for Saddam Hussein. Do not misunderstand me. He made his own horrible choices and I do not "feel sorry" for him or think that he was given a bad deal. I guess I wonder about what could have been and if he had to end up this way.

He was raised in poverty by a suicidal, widowed mother and an abusive stepfather who started him on a life of crime at an early age. His first real acceptance as a young man unfortunately came by a violent group who drew him into a further evil life. As I heard about his history the first thought that came in my mind was "he could be one of my clients". What if his stepfather had been a loving man who instead of ordering him to steal, taught him what it was to be a man of character. Or instead of meeting up with a violent and evil group, he had met up with a group of missionaries. Again, I am not justifying his actions...just wondering if it could have been different.

So there is the conflict. I remember struggling with this and praying through it when Timothy McVeigh was executed. The Oklahoma City bombing is one of the first life changing news events that happened in my life and I remember that pain as a young person dealing with that evil. I still don't have a good answer for that time and I don't for this one. After writing it out, I think I might be even further from a good answer.

But, I am beginning to figure out what my external reaction should be. I need to do what I can to be that person who makes a difference. Timothy McVeigh and Saddam Hussein did not respond to positive people in their life and the results of their choices are obvious. But, every person I encounter may be that person who is at a crossroad in their life. What will I do to determine which path they take?

Maybe that is what mental conflicts are about. There are some answers that may not be clear but the conflicts cause thoughts to follow about my actions and my part in this world.

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