“Psalm 44: A Soldier’s Voice,” Bethany Therriault

PSALM 44: A SOLDIER’S VOICE

 

            Bethany Therriault

 

Eli, a soldier in the US army, has been stationed in Iraq for the past 6 months. Many of his comrades have been killed or wounded in skirmishes. Early this morning, his best friend, a guy he has known since elementary school, was killed by a suicide bomber while on a routine patrol. Searching for answers, Eli opens a small Bible which was sent to him by an American church group.

 

2 We have heard, O God,

our fathers have told us the deeds You performed in their time, in days of old.

 

Now that sounds familiar. I can’t count how many times my father would talk about his Vietnam experiences. He talked about how he and his buddies would all pray before going after the VC. And how he prayed as he ran after enemy soldiers. And how he prayed, both for their souls and his. He always said that God got him through that……I wonder if he really believed it.

 

6 Through You we gore our foes; by Your name we trample our adversaries;

7 I do not trust in my bow; it is not my sword that gives me victory;

8 You give us victory over our foes; You thwart those who hate us.

 

That sounds like something the President would say. “God is on our side…blah blah blah.” And the leaders of the terrorists call upon the people of Iraq to do their duty for Allah. Why is it that both President Bush and the leaders of the opposition say the exact same thing? How can God be on both sides?

 

10 Yet You have rejected and disgraced us; You do not go with our armies.

11 You make us retreat before our foe; our enemies plunder us at will.

12 You let them devour us like sheep; You disperse us among the nations.

13 You sell Your people for no fortune, You set no high price on them.

 

I can’t stand to look at the faces of the women here anymore. I watch them when they pray. They cry when they pray. They don’t cry when they stare at us as our convoys pass. They don’t cry when we invade their homes looking for their men. They don’t even cry when a stray missile destroys half of a mosque. But they cry when they pray.

 

14 You make us the butt of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.

15 You make us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.

16 I am always aware of my disgrace; I am wholly covered with shame

17 at the sound of taunting revilers, in the presence of the vengeful foe.

 

Now this is how we feel. I watch the news. I see our allies dropping like flies. It really makes you wonder, you know? If no one wants to be involved, maybe this isn’t the just cause our illustrious President says that it is. If God is really on our side, why isn’t anyone else standing with us?

 

23 It is for Your sake that we are slain all day long, that we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

 

I’ve heard that before. Every time some terrorist wants to kill Americans, he shouts something like that. They accuse us of being butchers, but we’re not the butchers. We’re the sheep. It’s us who are slaughtered for our cause. Every day we go out there, doing our jobs, trying to help these people because it was us that caused the damage. We try to repay our debt. We didn’t order the dropping of bombs, but we’re cleaning up the mess. Mike was going out to repair a sewer line that had been damaged. Mike didn’t have a vendetta against Iraqis. He was just doing his job. But apparently, that wasn’t allowed. Some terrorist decided that Mike was the enemy, that he couldn’t be allowed to live. Or maybe, it wasn’t that Mike was the enemy. Maybe they just like killing. Either way, Mike is dead. He wasn’t a butcher. He was the sheep.

 

24 Rouse Yourself; why do You sleep, O Lord? Awaken, do not reject us forever!

25 Why do You hide Your face, ignoring our affliction and distress?

26 We lie prostrate in the dust; our body clings to the ground.

27 Arise and help us, redeem us, as befits Your faithfulness.

 

Are you listening now, God? Have you heard the cries? Iraq cries out, in English and Arabic, for your justice. Can you hear us? Did you hear Mike cry out before he was silenced forever? Do you hear me, God? Can you hear me?