a very strange situation

Yesterday the three remaining CPT hostages in Iraq were rescued by the military. They had been held a long time, and one of them had been executed, causing much grief and worry and prayer among people I know. Thank God that the others are free.

I've thought about this quite a bit. Because it sets up a very strange situation: CPT went to help the Iraqi people, strongly criticizing the U.S. as the oppressor, but then found that the greatest threat to their lives came from among the Iraqi people, and they were subsequently rescued by the U.S. military. When CPT initially issued a statement after the rescue operation, perhaps befuddled by the strangeness and unexpectedness of the situation, they didn't even thank their rescuers but again criticized the occupying forces, basically blaming them for the kidnapping. (I was pleased to see they added a statement of thanks yesterday evening.)

As I thought about it, their situation reminded me of my own. I've also found it strange to have come here to help the poor, seeing them as victims of an oppressive society, and then find that I suffer most, not at the hands of the oppressive society, but because of some of the very people I've come to help. And when I compare that to Jesus' suffering, I wonder why it looks different. [In an online discussion I said it's like trying to imagine Jesus being captured by a rogue group of zealots and then being recued by the Romans.] In a previous journal entry, I wrote:

Those who came to attack Jesus were those in power, who felt threatened by him. These were his persecutors, who he rebuked. He was not caught in the strange situation that I've often faced here, of being attacked by a person I'm trying to help, or dealing with a demanding beggar. Or providing food and shelter to someone who will go off and use drugs as soon as the next opportunity arises. But, as I've said before, Jesus put himself in a different position. What he offered did not draw the demanding beggars...

Not that I'm trying to put all the blame on the poor (or the Iraqis) or trying to justify the oppressors. But I do think it doesn't work to simply take sides. There are many among the poor (and the Iraqis) who are a big part of the problem, just as the oppressors are a big part of the problem.

I think recognizing this will help avoid the confusion of finding ourselves in such a situation as this. And also trying to follow Jesus' example more closely. I don't see Jesus getting into such strange situations; but I need to think about this some more.