I have learned over the years that making decisions or judgments on situations or people without having a full view, or at least a satisfactory vantage point can lead to some serious mistakes.
I remember out of High School I considered applying for a position with Aramco, a Kuwait Gulf Oil Company. This was prior to the Internet, so the fliers and paperwork came through the snail mail. Weeks went by as they would send me information pertaining to the various positions available. I would have started at the bottom, but after a few years with the company, things looked promising. I don’t recall all events that steered me away from heading to Kuwait, but one was a job up in Calaveras county. No telling how things would have turned out had I accepted one of the many entry level positions Aramco offered when just a few years later Kuwait was invaded by Iraq.
On August 2nd, 1990, General Georges Sada received a call from the air force headquarters in Baghdad; he was to meet with Saddam Hussein and his cabinet, and act as an adviser for the invasion of Kuwait. General Sada had retired 10 years prior and had been teaching at the three military colleges in Iraq. His field of expertise was the air war, strategy, tactics, and logistics.
In the coming months, General Sada met with Saddam Hussein and his military intelligent staff multiple times to discuss the American air power in the Red Sea, Mediterranean, and the capabilities of the Israeli air-force. Then in November of 1990, General Sada learned they were looking into attacking Israel.
Before General Sada spoke openly to Saddam, he asked for “permission to speak freely, with immunity.” 1 Sada was fearful, and rightfully so, of being killed on the very spot he stood for delivering bad news. Others before him had suffered such a fate, and many of the advisers in the room had seen it first hand.
He told Saddam that, “attacking Israel would be like the blind attacking the sighted…I told Saddam that the reason I had used that expression is because the Israeli aircraft have very advanced radar, with the capability to see more than 125 miles in any direction. On the other hand, 75 percent of Iraqi aircraft were Russian-made, and the range of the radar on our fighters was only about fifteen miles.” 2
If Admiral Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II, had seen the absence of our aircraft carriers from Pearl, he could have delayed the attack and dealt the U.S. an even more destructive blow by sinking our aircraft carriers.
As adults, we can see the obvious advantages to having a full picture. We understand the reasons for a flu shot are to avoid illness during the flu season. If we did not see the reasoning for having a sharp needle stuck in our arm or butt cheek, why on earth would we pay someone do that?
As adults, we understand the reasons for chemotherapy or radiation treatment to fight cancer. Without the threat of death from cancer, no one would subject themselves to poisonous treatments in an effort to kill the cancer.
All of us have experienced something that was disappointing, painful, or heart wrenching, but later we were able to look back at the event or events with a wider a view of the circumstances, and see some possible reasons, or even benefit for it having taken place. That was certainly the case of the crew on the U.S.S. Hornet, when they watched the men of Torpedo 8 Squadron launch, never to return. All of them died without laying a scratch on an enemy ship, but thankfully their story did not end there.
What is difficult for all of us are the events that, despite a wide view, don’t make any sense. Events that bring pain, suffering, or even death, but for no apparent reason. Even years later, some never see any possible justification for what they went through. I don’t think this is any more obvious than the death of a child or unexpected loss of a loved one.
Without a doubt, one of the greatest sacrifices in World War II was suffered by Thomas and Alleta Sullivan. All five of their sons wouldn’t sign up unless they were allowed to serve together on the same ship. The Navy acquiesced, and all the brothers all served on the USS Juneau (CL-52). During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Juneau was hit by two torpedos and sank, taking down most of the crew. The few survivors reported that three of the Sullivan brothers were killed instantly, a fourth succumbed to his injuries the next day. George, the oldest of the brothers survived several days on the open sea, continually calling for his brothers. He finally swam away from his raft to an imagined shore to get help for his siblings, but was never seen again. 3
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek list the five most consequential questions we can ask ourselves.
1. Origin: Where did we come from?
2. Identity: Who we are?
3. Meaning: Why we are here?
4. Morality: How should we live?
5. Destiny: Where are we going?
They rightfully point out that each of these questions, or more specifically, how we answer these questions, depends on the existence of a higher power. 4 If there is not a God that created us in his image, with meaning and purpose, then what transpires in our lives has no meaning. Pleasure, victory, success, or suffering, defeat, and failure, amount to the same. Ultimately dust and nothingness.
Those who believe in God know and understand that despite the suffering and loss we experience, our lives do have meaning and purpose. Some times the reasons are revealed in our lives, (John 9:1-7) and other times they are not. (Prov. 3:5-6)
This weekend, my students are having to memorize some quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of my favorites is, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” (John 20:29) We will never understand all the pain and suffering in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us, but those that can put their trust in a Savior can find deep joy and satisfaction, despite their circumstances. (Philippians 4:6-7)
That first picture? If you want to know what it was, just click here.
1. Sada, Georges. Saddam’s Secrets How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein. Brentwood: Integrity Publishers, 2006. Print.
3. Patterson, Michael. “The Sullivan Brothers” Arlington cemetery. Arlingtoncemetery.net, 24 August 2005. Web 14 March 2015
4. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.
The Whole Picture by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.knowingforsure.com.