This afternoon I read through the short book A Memory of Solferino. This text was written in 1862 and spurred the organization of the Red Cross.
"He said to the Chevalier du Rozel: 'What a nation you are! You fight like lions, and once you have beaten your enemies you treat them as though they were your best friends!'" page 28
"The feeling one has of one's own utter inadequacy in such extraordinary and solemn circumstances is unspeakable. It is, indeed, excessively distressing to realize that you can never do more than help those who are just before you - that you must keep waiting men who are calling out and begging you to come. When you start to go somewhere, it is hours before you get there, for you are stopped by one begging for help, [ / ] then by another, held up at every step by the crowd of poor wretches who press before and about you. Then you find yourself asking, 'Why go to the right, when there are all these men on the left who will die without a word of kindness or comfort, without so much as a glass of water to quench their burning thirst?'
"The moral sense of the importance of human life; the humane desire to lighten a little the torments of all these poor wretches, or restore their shattered courage; the furious and relentless activity which a man summons up at such moments: all these combine to create a kind of energy which gives one a positive craving to relieve as many as one can. There is no more grieving at the multiple scenes of this fearful and solemn tragedy. There is indifference as one passes even before the most frightfully disfigured corpses. There is something akin to cold calculation the the face of horrors yet more ghastly than those here described, and which the pen absolutely declines to set down. But then you feel sometimes that your heart is suddenly breaking -- it is as if you were stricken all at once with a sense of bitter and irresistible sadness, because of some simple incident, some isolated happening, some small unexpected detail which strikes closer to the soul, seizing on our sympathies and shaking all the most sensitive fibres of our being." pages 37-38
"A noble lady of Cremona, Countess . . ., who had heard the doctor's words and had been devoting herself to the hospitals with the utmost zeal, made haste to show her disapproval by declaring that she gave exactly the same attention to the Austrians as to the Allies, and made no difference between friends and enemies. 'For,' she said, "Our Lord Jesus Christ made no such distinctions between men in well doing.'" page 56
Dunant, Henri. A Memory of Solferino. Washington, D.C.: The American National Red Cross, 1959.
This all brings to mind what Richard Wurmbrand wrote in Alone with God (page 41) "The Christian is engaged in warfare as long as he lives on this earth. But his role can be compared to that of a military physician. He has to give medicine and comfort to the wounded on both sides." These themes of mercy and spiritual warfare keep coming up for me, especially in our new Missions reading text called Paradigms in Conflict. I've only gotten through one and a half chapters, but I've already been entangled in the difficult questions of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility as well as the fate of the nations who have never heard the gospel of Christ. Ah, this is when I flee to Psalm 131 and take up the banner of my God, remembering His name. I don't have all the answers and I often feel my "utter inadequacy" but that's when I need to look up and set my eyes on the Great Physician, the King of kings, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. There is my righteousness and my life - there is the Lord Jesus Christ!