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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pearl Harbor as a metaphor for the Christian experience?

Seventy-six years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and rained down death and destruction on American military installations there. And, when Americans learned about what had happened, they were saddened, angry and dismayed. At that moment, the future seemed very uncertain. It was obvious that the nation was at war, but most Americans were very apprehensive about what course that conflict might take. (After all, the Germans and their allies were then in control of most of Europe and North Africa, and Asia lay prostrate before the Japanese onslaught.)

Nevertheless, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt assured the American people that they would gain the ultimate victory in this conflict. He summoned them to action and reassured them that their efforts and sacrifices would be rewarded in the end. Roosevelt told them that their cause was righteous, and he implied that their ultimate triumph was a foregone conclusion if they stayed the course.

We know, of course, that the United States and its allies were ultimately victorious in that war. From our perspective, that outcome even seems inevitable. We should, however, try to imagine what it would have been like for our parents/grandparents to face those challenges.

Today, you can stand on the memorial that has been erected over the sunken USS Arizona and look across the harbor to where the USS Missouri is moored. In other words, it is possible to stand on a symbol of death and defeat at the hands of the enemy and view the place where that same enemy signed the instrument of surrender! As someone who has experienced this phenomenon in person, I can tell you that the symbolism is powerful and compelling.

For me, Pearl Harbor is a kind of metaphor for what we experience as Christians. In this life, the enemy can often seem to be very powerful and often appears triumphant. However, God has assured us that we will gain the ultimate victory if we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and remain faithful to the end. In other words, Jesus Christ has already got this one in the bag - he has already defeated the enemy that currently plagues us. Can you see the Missouri just across the harbor? What do you think?

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