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Resilience in Times of Trial: A Norwegian Volunteer’s Experience in Israel

By Einar Reite

One of the first things I noticed while walking the streets of Jerusalem was the absence of tourists. Usually, during this season, the streets are bustling with visitors, especially at the traditional biblical and historical sites. Now, the few of us here have these sites almost entirely to ourselves.

This situation significantly impacts the people and society. Many businesses rely on tourism, and the decline in this industry forces many to face an uncertain future—affecting personal, local, regional, and national levels. 

It also gives the impression that the people are being left alone. Even though the reasons for people not traveling to Israel are often legitimate, those who remain still experience a sense of being forgotten. Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

October 7th is still fresh in the memory and minds of the people here. Israel will never be the same after this date. The ongoing war, along with the propaganda war and the Western response to the situation has deferred the healing process. The people here have not had many moments to take a deep breath and process what they have been through. They are constantly enduring new waves of different kinds of attacks.

I was here on Independence Day, May 14th. The celebration was less vibrant and more muted than usual due to the ongoing war and the hostages being held captive. Typically, people go wild on this day celebrating their independence, but not this year. There was a sense of silent sorrow and a quiet questioning of what was coming next. There was also an ongoing sense of shock at how the world was responding and mounting pressure on them in their most vulnerable state.

Yet, I have also been deeply impressed by the resilience and endurance of the people. Amidst this situation, they are still busy with everyday life. As for Revive Israel’s “40 Days Discipleship” program I was part of, I forgot at times that  Israel is at war, as we were fully focused on the program. The atmosphere is not one of panic and utter despair. The spirit of the people is at work, driving them to continue their everyday lives and search for solutions. As Psalm 121:1-2 says, 

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Witnessing this in the land of Israel reminds me of what Yeshua said to His disciples in John 15:18-20: 

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

Just as Yeshua was persecuted and ultimately crushed by this world, Israel is under pressure nowadays. Yet, as Yeshua knew who He was and why He was here, Israel also has the drive to continue. In John 16:33, Yeshua reassures us,

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I pray that as physical tension increases, so will spiritual revival and faith in Yeshua.

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