Day of Devastation, Day of Contentment

As I have been learning more about the situation in South Sudan I have been struck by the lines found in a contemporary Dinka hymn by Mary Alueel Garang:

Let us praise the Lord

Let us praise the Lord

in the Day of Devastation

in the Day of Contentment

South Sudan has known more than its share of Days of Devastation and not nearly enough Days of Contentment. But for many South Sudanese Christians they are ready to praise the Lord whatever the situation they have to meet.

They have captured the spirit of the prophet Habbakuk who wrote: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habbakuk 3:17-18)

In human life we all have to meet the dark and stormy days as well as the bright and sunny ones. Our sisters and brothers in South Sudan have much to teach us about faith and resilience on life’s journey.

At the same time, this is not a reason to be complacent as we pray and work for an end to the Days of Devastation. As South Sudan struggled to overcome its crippling civil war in 2015 Festus Mogae, Chairperson of its Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, brought the challenge that it is time to “win a different kind of war, a war against poverty, disease and ignorance, a war where lives are saved rather than taken, where prosperity is achieved rather than destroyed, where hope is brought rather than despair.”

The subsequent years have sadly brought even more reasons to despair. But many in South Sudan have maintained an unquenchable hope that arises from their faith. Surely we will join them in their prayers for peace, as Pope Francis did when he kissed the feet of South Sudanese political leaders when they visited the Vatican just ahead of Holy Week. See

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