Do not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
By Youval Yanay
I’m a second-generation Holocaust survivor. My father immigrated to Israel alone at 13 years old from Warsaw, Poland, and thus survived. Tragically, his entire family, including parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, and relatives, were murdered.
The haunting memory of the Holocaust was a constant presence in our home. Every Holocaust Remembrance Day, my father would light a memorial candle and tell us: “If I hadn’t been a Zionist from a young age, I would have ended up in the smokestacks of Auschwitz, just like my entire family.” During Passover, my father’s story was the central narrative – how he escaped the Germans who sought to annihilate our people.
From a young age, I read any and every Holocaust book I could get my hands on. My father collected testimonies and books written by survivors. The testimonies were profoundly distressing, offering vivid accounts from survivors who bore witness to these atrocities. And, already as a child, I was filled with anger, rage, vengeance, helplessness, and hatred toward the Germans.
That was until I met Yeshua. I found healing and freedom from the darkness that had plagued me for years. I forgave the Germans from the depths of my heart, and the light of God’s presence filled my innermost being. Through the Holy Spirit, He freed me from thoughts of darkness. He continues to transform me as I grow in His grace and into Yeshua’s likeness.
But then came October 7th, known as “Black Saturday.” It was a day that shook me to the core. As stories and testimonies emerged of those whose family members were murdered or kidnapped, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions, including bitterness, confusion, and hopelessness.
But, by the grace of God, one morning the Lord reminded me of a verse from Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” It was a revelation that halted my negative emotions of anger, revenge, and hatred and I know many outside of Israel can relate, but I realized that nurturing these feelings was not the path God prepared for me.
The Sacred Duty of Self-Defense and Purity of Heart
There is no doubt that according to God’s word, the Israel Defense Forces have the right to self-defense and to respond to our enemies who rise against us. But, more so, it is our duty, and I permit myself to add – it is a sacred duty (Romans 13:4).
However, in a world where self-defense and responding to our enemies are essential, it is critical to maintain the purity of our hearts. We are commanded to avoid harboring hatred and vengeance, even when faced with genuine threats and adversities. While Israel has a right to defend herself, seeking revenge is not our part. Instead, we are instructed to entrust judgment and vengeance to God, the ultimate Judge. When God uses the Israel Defense Forces to execute His judgment and pour out His anger, the vengeance is God’s, and the anger belongs to Him.
Even as our army is engaged today in a war against cruel evil, it is imperative to uphold the principles of God—love, forgiveness, and righteousness. Hatred, anger, and revenge may be our natural inclinations, but they have no place in the hearts of believers who seek to follow Jesus’ example.
Furthermore, we should not be driven by fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – II Timothy 1:7. That is my prayer for our soldiers fighting in the front. Our primary focus should be on the fear of God, not the fear of human adversaries. As Jesus taught, we must fear the One who holds eternal judgment (Mat 10:28).
God’s sovereignty remains unwavering amidst changing circumstances. Our joy is rooted in the Lord, regardless of external conditions. In the face of despair, we find solace in the unchanging character of God. Our faith propels us to shine the light of joy and peace, which are found in Jesus and not dependent on worldly circumstances.
While we pray and strive for victory in the war against the cruel evil that entered our homes more than three weeks ago, we keep our hearts pure. With a pure heart, through prayer and the Word of God, we can radiate the joy of the Lord and the peace we have in Him to shine forth from within us, to overflow and be shared from our hearts, from our eyes, and from our smiles. We reflect the image of Jesus and proclaim His Kingdom. First and foremost, to our brothers and sisters around us, but also to those who need Jesus and are living in darkness and fear.
This is our time to shine. Shabbat Shalom, not according to the ways of this world.