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Amid Gaza Aftermath, Searching for Mutual Solution

We lament the killing of almost 60 of our people in Gaza.

We lament the injury of hundreds of our children, the trauma of our people, their hunger, their humiliation and their dehumanization.

We bleed tears and feel great anguish as we see the brutality of irresponsible Israeli soldiers and leaders, the insistence of choosing war, and the apathy of Arab governments as well as many in the international community.

We lament the oppression of Palestinians since 1948 and until now. We lament the loss of lives throughout our blood history whether they are Palestinians or Israelis.

We are not interested in finding someone to blame but in living with dignity. We are not interested in excluding the Jewish people from this land but in sharing it with them.

We are not interested in claiming that we are always right throughout our history, but we are interested in peace, in dignity, in equality and in justice.

We are not interested in claiming moral superiority or more legitimacy but in true justice that is rooted in merciful love.

We want to live in dignity and peace. But we are troubled because our basic human rights are violated continually.

We are troubled by the decisions of President Trump that are related to us.

We are also troubled because many evangelical Christians claim that this is God’s will for our people. They quote the same Bible that we read and interpret it in ways that destroy us politically, psychologically and spiritually.

We are troubled when in the name of Christ and the Bible, Palestinians are demonized, marginalized and literally terminated. We are troubled when we are treated like the Canaanites of the Old Testament.

How should we respond? What should we say to our young people and children?

We trust in God. We still believe that it is possible to change the future if we make the right decisions today.

Followers of Christ need to honor Jesus who continues to love every human being and insists on saving their lives, not killing them.

Perhaps it is time to wake up and to be merciful. Perhaps we need to be more responsible in our attitudes, decisions, words and actions.

Perhaps we need to motivate our churches to have loud voices against violating human rights among Palestinians, especially in light of the recent events. Perhaps we need to pray for Jerusalem again and again.

Perhaps we have a blind spot somewhere. This city continues to cause us to weep even though it is destined to be a place of reconciliation. This city continues to ignore prophetic voices in the name of buildings.

The problem is not in its stones but in the selfishness, brutality, bigotry and oppressive measures of its people.

The beginning of the solution is rooted in seeing the other not as a threat but as a partner, not as a curse but as a divine gift.

This happened in the early church that followed Jesus Christ. Can it happen again? O Lord, have mercy on us!

I would like to end my thoughts with a prayer taken from my book, “Praying through the Psalms.” It is a prayer from Psalm 6.

“O Lord, hear my cry (Psalm 6:8).

“Jacob mourned for Joseph and refused to be comforted. Joseph must also have mourned the loss of his brothers while he was in a foreign land. To lose family members and those one loves is harsher than the lash of a whip.

“Like Ezekiel and Peter, I have sought the Lord with tears. Are my tears like the worthless tears of Esau? Or are they like the tears of Hagar when her son was almost dead? I cry like Hannah while I am praying and wishing for a different reality.

“Ah, I am exhausted; my heart is full of fatigue and sadness. My body is weak and my spirit and soul are dwelling in darkness. O God, heal me. Have mercy on me, deliver me and save me in my distress. Even my tears are tired. My worries are parked on my pillow, in a traffic jam of sorrows. How long, O God (verse 3)?

“Could it be that the Lord has forgotten? Has the flood of despair drowned the land? My courage has melted away and I can no longer cling to even a shred of hope.

“But the Lord has heard my sobbing! He has gently wiped away my tears and granted me the desires of my heart. He has accepted me as I am, and in Christ, I even bring him pleasure! Jesus wept and the chosen one cried out as for my sake he wrapped himself in pain. He was humbled for me.

“Then he became an intercessor at the right hand of God, transforming my tears into a plea that thunders in heaven. In the furnace of harsh realities, my tears have become like sand in an oyster; the Lord has transformed each of them into pearls. God turns them into a spring that quenches my thirst for a more mature faith.

“O Lord, sanctify my tears on this day. Use them to bless your church and to help bring salvation to the world. I mourn in order that you may bring forth the dew and rain of blessings over our country. I sob knowing that you value and see every tear. Not one single tear will be lost. All of them will contribute to the spread of the kingdom of the master of the universe.”

Yohanna Katanacho is the academic dean at Nazareth Evangelical College and professor of biblical studies at Bethlehem Bible College. He lives in Nazareth and continually commutes to Bethlehem. A version of this article first appeared on Come and See and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @ykatanacho.