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The Thorn As A Blessing

In humanity's desire to create the "perfect" world, we often seek to remove that which annoys us. But often the reason it annoys us so much is that it reminds us that we can never have full control over this reality. We are seeing evidence of this frustration at the levels of nations or tribal/religious alliances, we are also seeing it at the local level with excessive poverty, distress, illness and crime.

At the "statehood" (meaning any human organisation that extends beyond immediate kin), there are numerous examples of thorns that frustrate. The United Nations is an interesting example, we are seeing people on the one hand advocating for the UN, but then we see reservations about the UN's effectiveness, we then see souls trying to gain control over the UN,  we then see souls bemoaning that "enemies" have too much influence in the UN, we have others complaining of non-cooperation or co-option of the UN (depending on which way they have moved with which issue and the writer's own agenda). For example Iran calling for UN empowerment, to the usinfo articulating the US' agenda and intent to reform the UN human rights body to be more palatable to the US, to concerns that the UN betrays justice.

Yet this is only squabbling between human power brokers trying to make sure their own agenda is not left off the map. If world peace was not at stake, it would be tempting to brush the dust off one's feet and walk away and leave these people to their squabbling. But the stakes are too high, so somehow we must weave an effective tapestry that can hold this planet and its beings together.

Many of the world's pressing issues are arising out of the misuse of theology and/or statehood to condone outright abuse of human rights e.g. "dirty weapons" like cluster or phosphorus bombs; or to justify systemised poverty and repression - either of outcastes within a nation, or the vast majority of souls of a nation or even a continent. It is not unreasonable to fear when theology and "the state" marry because the timeline and controls to restrain excessive tendencies become unstable. The system becomes less resilient and more extreme in its reaction to perceived threats.

In martial arts a student is sometimes taught that the best way to win with a powerful opponent is to draw alongside and move with their "enemy". Perhaps we need to learn as nations and as individuals that if we accept thorns in our side as inevitable (e.g. the US and Cuba, Israel and Gaza). After all, Paul had to learn to live with his thorn because as the Lord explained to him "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"  (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) Then we might be able to mature sufficiently to understand our weaknesses and work to our strengths for the greater good of both ourselves and all humanity.

One key strategy would be to increase the timeline and accountability for appropriate responses to perceived threats (real or other). A resilient model that brings in accountability and "watching each other's back" can cool the flames of passion and reduce the consequences of bad decisions. This is consistent with Isaiah 49, Proverbs 25:15, and Ecclesiastes 10:4 "If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest."

Some might say that theology and statehood should not be married, there are advantages in keeping their distance. But when religion forms such an important part of people's identities, there needs to be biblically justifiable paradigms that people can internalise to help them manage their fears and accept the need for accountability as well as wise stewardship. [For example Bishop Griswald's call for the US to become a Superservant].It is also unrealistic to say that religion will not affect politics, because it forms the basis of souls' identity and approaches to problem solving, religion will inevitably ripply into the public domain. Thus it is better to accept that this will happen and place appropriate guidelines to curb excessive zealotry and guide nations to wholesome systems and practices.

This following passage from Micah 7:2-20 seems appropriate for the squabbling between nations, yet it and the following passage from Isaiah 42:5-7 remind us that as much as we might argue and fight between ourselves, ultimately it is God who will bind and heal us all.

Mic 7:2 The godly have been swept from the land;not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net. Mic 7:3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes,the powerful dictate what they desire— they all conspire together. Mic 7:4 The best of them is like a brier,the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion... Mic 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Mic 7:9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD'S wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. Mic 7:10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, "Where is the LORD your God?" My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets. Mic 7:16 Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will lay their hands on their mouths and their ears will become deaf. Mic 7:17 They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground. They will come trembling out of their dens; they will turn in fear to the LORD our God and will be afraid of you. Mic 7:18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Mic 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Mic 7:20 You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago.

Isa 42:5 This is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: Isa 42:6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, Isa 42:7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

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