It is Pearl Harbor Day. On this day we remember the secret ambush attack made by the Japanese on the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. It was brutal and overwhelming. It was an act of war, and roused a sleeping giant into becoming the most powerful nation the world has ever seen.
Four years later, America would end the war by dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities. These were not surprise sneak attacks. They were announced in advance in hopes that the leadership of Japan would surrender. They did not surrender until two of the most horrific promises in history had been fulfilled.
Over the next couple of generations Japan and the U.S. have developed a solid relationship. Not without hiccups, but generally as international friends and allies. Yet there is always some hurt that goes with the memory of this relationship. Leaders and historians have tried to make fruitful sense out of those bookend events. In 2015, the leader of Japan spoke some very powerful words about the whole thing.
"History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone." - Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking on the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Japan ending the 2nd World War.
I like that statement. It is very powerful. In the speech he mentioned some of the atrocities Japan was involved in during the war, but never came out and apologized for them. Japan has apologized over and over again for their part, which included the ambush of the United States military in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I don't think this man has to apologize again for the sins of his forebears.
But think about his statement for a minute...
"History is harsh." That is the reality in a fallen and rebellious world. We all have regrets. We all have scars. We all have lingering hurts. Sometimes we expect too much from history. The people who did those horrible things were just like us. We are all (everyone of us reading this) capable of doing the most horrific thing.
"What is done cannot be undone." Sometimes we tend to expect too much from time. It has been said that time heals all wounds. But it doesn't. Time only moves us further from the event in a chronological pattern. It separates us from the moment. In one sense, the further from the moment we get, the less it controls our lives. Time doesn't heal all wounds, but time does give wounds one necessary element. It gives opportunity for wounds to heal.
The writer of Ecclesiastes passed along this wisdom...
"There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace."
Time is marked by seasons. Some seasons are very rough. Others are very fulfilling. Seasons help us move through time. If all of time was harvest, we would have no experience with sowing or growing. If all of life was laughing, we would know nothing of compassion. History is made up of time. But it is also made up of seasons within that time. It is up to us to recognize those seasons and experience them well.
Some of your history has been seasons of hurt. Others have been seasons of healing. Other have been seasons of rest. But if you constantly live in the season of hurt... even after a new season has come, have you made the best of your time?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is transforming. It changes our future, but it does not change what has already happened. If we tie the Japanese Prime Minister's words in with the apostle Paul's, we get this...
History is harsh. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) What is done cannot be undone. "The wages of sin is death... but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
America cannot have a healthy relationship with Japan if we do not leave the Pearl Harbor season. Japan cannot move forward with the U.S. if they stay in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki season. Both nations must recognize the horrors of that season and determine that it is a new day. There is a time for war... and a time for peace.
Your history is harsh. My history is harsh. We have done horrible things against God and others. People have done horrible things to us. A million apologies cannot erase those things. What is done cannot be undone. So we must trust in Jesus to take our ashes and turn them into beauty. There is no other way to receive life out of death.
Today you can live in your harsh past. You can live in the harsh past someone gave you. You can spend today trying to change what has been. Or you can spend today building what will be. Your past is on the paper, but your future is still in the pen.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.