I’ve never known desperation. I’ve never gone hungry, worried about staying warm (or cool), or not known the love of family or friends. And before Monday morning, I don’t think I understood what the word meant. Then, I saw a picture of two men falling from a USAF C-17 cargo plane and saw what desperation really was.
Growing up as a late 90’s baby, I knew little about the wars in the Middle East. I knew we were fighting, but I never cared enough about the news to pay attention. In my home in Northeast, MS, all was well. I had my family, and I knew I was safe. There was nothing to fear. In came the love and support while out stayed the dark news of what was happening around the world.
Then came August 16th, 2021.
After coming to work and prepping to do my daily read-through of the news, a video of thousands of Afghans flocking an airplane appeared. They were screaming, crying, and begging to get on the cargo plane as American troops left for the last time. As many Afghans had stood by our side for years, this time, they knew would be different. They would be left to the Taliban.
The images of men beating on an airplane door took me back to an image I remembered hearing my grandfather describe after the Vietnam war. He was one number away from being drafted, but by the grace of God, he was not called to fight. Rather, throughout my childhood (that he was thankfully very present for), he would talk about how horrible the war was. He would mention people he knew that had fought, the atmosphere of home, or how those who left never came back the same. But the one image he rebuked and profusely talked about was the image and video of the U.S. pulling out of Saigon.
“Horrible. It was an awful thing to watch. It was a war we should have never gotten in, but those people were our allies. And we left them there to be slaughtered!” He would say.
It seems as though history has repeated itself. The Vietnamese painted another picture of desperation. Those allies pleaded for safety, knowing what would happen without our armed forces on the ground. But it wasn’t until Monday, that I understood my grandfather’s resentment and pain.
I was shocked to see the hundreds of people packed, crowded, and hanging on to a plane for dear life. Desperation, again, hung on each of their faces as they each tried to escape. However, unlike the images from Saigon, these images are in HD and have been circulating for days now. With each new video coming from Afghanistan only getting darker and more intense, every face can be seen. Each outfit, tear, and look of confusion vividly shown on these grown men as they shook and cried upon realizing what was to come. Bodies plummeting to their death from a flying aircraft because they didn’t want to face the terror of the Taliban.
Heartbreaking. Senseless. Hopeless. These words wheeled around in my head like they were some sort of wake-up call. Then it hit, that’s desperation.
Today, I’m sitting in my cozy office typing this. But for the people of Afghanistan, children are being enslaved. Women are raped as their husbands are beheaded. Girls as young as my sisters are being sold as child brides. Young boys are brainwashed. Missionaries are tortured as their families are put to death before their loved one’s eyes.
On September 11th, 2001, our world panicked as America was hit by Islamic terrorists. Nearly 3,000 American people were dead in an instant. On that day, many Americans jumped from buildings to avoid a slow painful death.
The United States was silent that day. We were desperate.
Now, those evil radicals who killed our men, women, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and friends on 9/11 are terrorizing people in Afghanistan. I can’t help but wonder how many are turning off the tv or staying on their knees for the Afghan people hiding for their lives today.
The majority of Americans will never understand true desperation. My heart aches for the women, men, and children stuck there today. I pray all believers will take time to notice what is happening in Afghanistan and be prayerfully mindful of those suffering. But I also pray we realize how desperately we need His mighty hand. For without Him, we may find ourselves in similar disparity.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).