When involved in a conflict situation, we face many pressures and challenges. In the Israeli/Palestinian context, we face confusion, lack of clarity, and interest groups lobbying for our support and attention. There is betrayal, and pressure to retreat from relationship with those from the opposing side, and identify with your people group alone. At times there is a financial cost, or a psychological cost – the self-doubt that emerges when we think, “Maybe the majority that opposes us is correct.”
When faced with confusing situations, we are challenged to choose the right path and pay the price of that choice. Making the right choice is difficult. Discerning God’s call for us in times of conflict and crisis is challenging; at times we know what the right choice is, but we are hesitant because of the immediate consequences that will result. But that is our test all the same. Oftentimes, we only see the rewards of our faithfulness after we have made our choices, sometimes long after our choices are made, and after we ourselves have passed on.
Times like this mirror the challenge the children of Israel faced leading up to Passover, and the challenge Jesus faced leading to his crucifixion. There was political and social turmoil as well as religious pressure. As these holidays are upon us, we need to reflect on the season of exodus, of putting aside the sin that holds us back, the confusion and pressures that beckon us to compromise, and walk into the present of God’s redemption. Restoring the relationship between God and humanity at vertical level, and the relationship between our fellow human beings at a horizontal level, Jesus offered a new way of thinking, a new way of living. Yet his message of deliverance, hope and reconciliation to God and creation were rejected, despised, and misunderstood. At the same time, he maintained the importance of his cause, and remained a faithful servant to his Father.
When we are in the midst of difficult times, people often question the rightness and importance of our cause. To some degree, reconciliation and relationship building appear to be obvious positive steps toward ending our conflict, yet they are often derided, ridiculed, and undermined by believers and unbelievers alike.
The stories of Pesach (Passover) and Pascha (Easter) teach us to remain faithful, even when everything around us appears to be failing. God used ten plagues before delivering the children of Israel from Egypt. Surely after one, two, three, even four plagues, people must have thought, “It’s not working.” Likewise, upon Jesus’ arrest, his disciples thought that Jesus’ message had failed. From our vantage point, far removed from these events, it is easy to think, “Just remain faithful. Hold to your course. God is using this for his greater purpose.”
When we are in the middle of a conflict, as we are Israelis and Palestinians, it can be difficult to seek peace and reconciliation when the situation still seems so grim. Yet, the Biblical narrative of Pesach and Pascha teaches us to persevere, to hold to our God-given vision, and to expect his deliverance in new and unexpected ways. We hold this message of encouragement in our hearts, and we wish all of you a wonderful Pesach and Pascha celebrating redemption and restoration in your spiritual life and personal endeavors.
Salim J. Munayer and the Musalaha Staff