Haunts of violence

by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military

Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. ~ Psalm 74:20

goodandevil3We know about the haunts of violence—those dark places where evil thrives and danger lurks. We know there are places in our cities where it is not safe to even drive through at night. We know of other dark places across oceans where from an alley or rooftop, from a ship or aircraft, killers may strike.

A “haunt” is a place where someone regularly spends time. In itself, the word has a neutral meaning. It could refer to a student spending time in a library.

But, the verb, “to haunt” easily flavors the noun. Traveling into the haunts of violence can lead to haunting experiences. Violence will do that.

People who stand up to the violent ones, people who protect others from violence, must often enter the haunts of violence to be effective. That seldom is a pleasant experience.

Even if our mission is successful, the violence can leave scars. Outer wounds may heal quickly. It is the inner injuries—the ones to our mind and soul—that often resist mending.

A person does not need to suffer from PTSD to carry around the inner wounds. Some sights, some sounds, and surely some smells, simply refuse to be erased from mind and spirit.

Sometimes medicine helps. Sometimes a mental health professional can bring answers. Sometimes it just takes the passing of time. But, there can be other times.

Sometimes God’s role in our life comes into question. Why wasn’t he there to stop the violence? Why did he not protect innocent people? Why did he not protect me?

Satan is immediately there to suggest answers. He whispers: “God doesn’t care!”

In our hurt and confusion, we are tempted to believe the Liar. What a mistake that would be!

The writer of Psalm 74 lived at a violent time. The Land of Israel had become littered with those dark places. It bothered him greatly. He was haunted by some of the sights and sounds.

But, he knew the answer. He turned to the One who is not intimidated by Evil. He called upon the One who had promised to care for his people. He personally knew the One who was the Death of death and hell’s Destruction.

He knew the King of kings and Lord of lords by name. He called him Father.

So do we.

He turned to his Father in faith.

So should we.

Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, be with us when we must enter those haunts of violence in dark places. Send angels to guard us. Use us to guard others. Remember your covenant, your promise to neither leave us or forsake us. Remind us that yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Always! Everywhere. Amen.

About livinghopeomaha

We are a WELS Lutheran Church located in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Millard area. We invite you to learn with us about Christ’s love and our calling. We provide child care and preschool education through Our Precious Lambs.
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