Dear Armenian people,
We live in challenging times. Our people, once again, are under attack. Innocent Armenian lives are being lost each day at the hands of enemies who want to finish what the Ottoman Turks started over a hundred years ago. The chant, “1915 Never Again!” has taken on greater urgency, as bewildered we look around and think, is it possible? The pain is deep, the question, how can this happen again? is real.
There’s something even deeper. We proudly announce at every opportunity, “we are the first Christian nation” and we boast in the faith of our forefathers. But some of us, silently, some perhaps loudly, question the God who could allow today’s attacks on Artsakh, let alone the Genocide. Where is the God we claim to trust with our lives? Why isn’t He answering our cries!? Are we alone yet again?
I am proud to be an Armenian. Proud because of the strength I see in my people; proud because of the passion, the hard work, the intelligence. Proud not only because of our accomplishments, but because of our ability to overcome so many obstacles in order to accomplish great things. Though we are a small nation, though we are few, though we have been scattered around the world, our reach far surpasses our stature.
I return to the question, are we alone yet again? The thought echoes in my mind as I wrestle to make sense of all that has happened to us and is happening. Then versions of the question—alone again? Once more? Then a pause—are we truly alone? Could it be that the God we are crying out to has never left us? Could it be that we survive because He carries us? Could it be that playing out before our eyes is the wisdom of God in all its beauty but we simply haven’t noticed?
A small, but unyielding people. Wherever they go, they prosper. Whatever soil you plant them in, they blossom. Innovation, advancement, scholarship, art, beauty—wherever we go, we thrive! Could it be that the hymn writer had it right, “Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face?” My people, not only do I believe it could be, it is!
I love my people and so now I write this love letter to you all. I write to offer you, in this most difficult time, the one thing I know is guaranteed. I write to tell you not only of my love for you, my people, but of the love of God. Please don’t stop reading.
You see, our forefathers had an understanding that went far beyond what they were able to see. They weren’t limited to the empirical because they knew the Transcendent. Yes, the fallenness of this world is real. Yes, the brokenness, the injustice, the pain and heartbreak, these are all real. Each time we hear more news of another young Armenian soldier killed, we are reminded—things are not the way they are supposed to be!
Every human has this written on our hearts. Death is not supposed to be! And yet we have no solution to the problem of death. Whether we regain the land of the greatest Armenian empire in history or lose even the small remnant we maintain today, each one of us proud Armenian women and men will face death. What will we do then?
My beloved people, I stand with you fighting for justice and for peace. But because I love you, I want you to know of the one way for justice and peace to truly reign and intersect. The answer to the problem of fallenness and sin (yes, even our own) is the answer our forefathers held tightly to—His name is Jesus. You see, Jesus was sent into this world because of the fall of humankind, to redeem what humans destroyed, to restore what looks (and is) so lost.
Jesus, who Mesrob declared, Vartan fought for, Naregatsi cried out to, and Gomidas sang about, He came and entered into our suffering. He, being God, took on a human nature so that He might not only enter into our suffering, but that He might take our suffering and sin for us. And He not only took our suffering, but He lived without sin in perfect righteousness, that He might give that righteousness to us… if we would simply trust Him.
Trust that, though we know our own sins and admit that we have fallen far short of the glory of God, His grace is our only hope. Victory over physical enemies goes only so far—our greatest battle is against our own sinfulness and rejection of God. And yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is true love.
He takes the wrath of God that we deserve; He gives His perfect righteousness that we could never achieve. He takes the debt we could never repay; He counts His goodness as ours, freely. So we can be with the Triune God of the universe forever.
My dear Armenian people, I rejoice in the unity I am seeing today among us. And so I had to write to you so that we might be united forever. Don’t live for this world alone, it will never satisfy. Turn to the Savior of our forefathers and let us together throw ourselves at the foot of the cross, to receive the glorious gift of His grace—the salvation of our souls.
Then, and only then, can we say with full conviction: Vasn Hisoosi, Vasn Hayrenyats
For His glory, by His grace,
Your fellow Armenian,
Jason Varouj Matossian