It was a missile launch that never was. January 13, 2018 is a day the people of Hawaii will never soon forget. A “Day of Infamy” we might as well call it - yet in a different, dreadful sense to individuals affected the most. It was the day a state employee pressed the wrong button that triggered a false emergency alert and sent shock waves through the islands. It read, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
With all the fiery rhetorics going on between the US and North Korea that keep people on the edge, this warning definitely sent shivers down the spine of every resident, visitor, and tourist alike. Soon panic began to seize the population thinking they had only minutes left to live. It took state officials 38 minutes after the false alarm was mistakenly sent to issue a correction. But the terrifying damage had been done as people began frantically calling for their loved ones, cars stopped in the middle of the road as drivers and passengers searched for shelter while nervously looking up in the sky.
This was definitely not a good way to start the new year especially in a beautiful paradise - Hawaii. I spent three years there. But the year 2018 is just too scary to go it alone with the ever increasing threat of a nuclear war in modern times. And not only on a global scale but on a personal level - the challenges we face each and every day require that we need someone to help fortify our faith, bring courage and calm to our soul, and instill hope in the midst of despair.
This is where Psalm 35 comes in as it gives us some of the clearest words of assurance and encouragement when our lives hang in the balance. David wrote this Psalm when his life was in danger from a madman, King Saul, who pursued him relentlessy in a diabolical plot to kill him. David couldn’t understand why Saul wanted him dead. He saved Israel from the ignominity of defeat when he challenged and decapitated the Philistines’ champion, Goliath. He fought Saul’s battles and won decisively. He spared Saul’s life when he had the chance to silence him. Yet in spite of all the good he had done for the nation the insecure, paranoid king spent all the resources of his kingdom and his strength pursuing the wrong target which left a confused, bewildered David.
The message of Psalm 35 is very clear: when we are overwhelmed by life’s vicissitudes - the downturns or the ups and downs of life - we should always allow God to fight our battles instead of our own puny strength. Let go and let God.
In Psalm 35 David implores God, “O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid. Lift up your spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Let me hear you say, ‘I will give you victory!’” David himself was mighty warrior who bore the scars of bloody battles. But he knew that there was a better and greater Warrior than he was in whom he could rely on when his strength failed him. In effect he was saying, “God you are bigger and more powerful than I am. Be the One to fight my battles.”
What happened in Hawaii is a wake up call. I have a lot of relatives there and we are grateful that it was just a false alarm. Yet it was one those unnerving moments when questions of whether we are ready to die or not come roaring in the back of our mind. What if the missile launch was indeed a real one and God forbid we happened to be there? Is the question of eternity a settled matter in your life?
Some 2,000 years ago a man by the name of Nicodemus went to Jesus seeking for answers. In that remarkable encounter, Jesus made the most profound yet simpliest statement of all coupled with an invitation that has eternal consequences, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosover believes in Him should not perish but have an everlasting life.”