As this year of 20/20 vision comes to a close and we reflect on a year unlike any other, coupled with atrocities our ancestors witnessed, I would like to remind you of who you (the Armenian people) are. Remember the fabric from which you were cut.
When we are faced with circumstances like this pandemic, like the Artsakh War, it is easy to lose perspective and sink into a mentality of discouragement. Our focus moves from the promises in our lives to the problems. Be mindful of your own thoughts, resist this temptation and remember who you are. Once you focus on this, you will be reminded of God’s promises to us and the fabric from which you were cut.
Think of the great flood which destroyed the entire earth (Book of Genesis). God chose one family, Noah’s, to spare and He chose one mountain to firmly place the Ark upon. It was not placed on a Swiss mountain or a mountain in Spain, or any other land. He chose Armenia to place the Ark, above all the surrounding nations, which today are predominantly Muslim. Remember how it was the hand of God that anointed the small Christian Armenian nation. Yet, those nations have a daily visual reminder—forever—when they look to Ararat and know it is the resting place of Noah’s Ark. Ararat is that powerful yet silent witness to the beginnings of the Armenian nation.
For those who would argue that Ararat is in Turkey, the term Ararat and Armenia are used interchangeably in the book of Genesis. Ararat is the term used to designate the region and is the link to ancient Armenia or the Kingdom of Urartu. Further, Noah’s Ark is depicted on the coat of arms of Armenia. It was Armenia that had the privilege of being the land where the new world began. It is you who are descendants of the people of this land. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the term Ararat means “sacred land,” or “holy land.” If God chose Ararat and Armenia to be sacred and holy, nobody can argue against it. God being for us is greater than the world being against us.
With a certain degree of confidence, the non-Christian nations probably know that we are not only Armenian, but we are different. We are not like them. We are the first nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. We believe in a resurrected Christ. We have our own alphabet. We have our own language. We live apart from one another, yet we are still united (sometimes).
Today, we may see that parts of Artsakh are surrendered to Azerbaijan. That is only today; do not go by what you see, but go by what you know is true. We are a nation whose kingdom is older than the Roman Empire, a nation that was led by Vartan Mamigonian in defeating the powerful Persian army to keep our Christian faith. We are a nation where genocide has failed to annihilate us, because ‘no weapon formed against us will prosper’ (Isaiah 54:17). Further, Armenia is the only country in the world which has not changed its name since ancient times.
My second point is this: remember the most coveted real estate in all the world is clearly labeled the Armenian Quarter. This is the Armenian presence in Jerusalem which dates back to the 4th century AD, when Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion. Although little attention may be placed on this fact, the Armenian Quarter of the Holy Land (Old City Jerusalem) is the oldest living diaspora community outside of Armenia. Most importantly, this is where Jesus walked. It is holy ground, and it is Armenian. The remaining three quarters of the Holy Land are labeled by religion: the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. The term “Armenian Quarter” distinguishes us from any religion and places emphasis on ethnicity.
Many may argue that our history is intertwined with war and persecution. That may be true, however, it does not make the promise of God any less significant. Remember what God said: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
As a first-generation Armenian (my roots are in Jerusalem and Jordan) and as a grandchild of an orphan from the Armenian Genocide, one would consider it impossible to survive, let alone thrive. Yet, this is exactly what the Armenian people have done. They have survived, become educated, earned degrees, have become excellent in their chosen fields, and passed down the religion, culture and language to succeeding generations. This was because of God’s grace upon our nation. Let us not boast and think it was our own strength. It was not. It was God’s strength which worked in and through us. As it was from the beginning of time with the anointing on the sacred Armenian nation at the foothills of Ararat, so it is today, with the anointing of the Armenian Quarter of the Holy Land. The anointing continues through you. Remember this when you teach your children. Tell them of God’s greatness in our Armenian people. Let them know the fabric from which you came, so they know who they are. Let no circumstances, people or nations tell you any different.
With that said, ask yourselves what talent you have. Are you not Armenian? Then you have this capability. Did you shut it down because of a jealous coworker or insensitive person? It is still your fabric. It is still your talent, unique only to you. Nurture it. Feed it and you will have partaken in an amazing legacy called the Armenian Nation, ordained from birth. Focus on the gifts you have and not what you lack. If adversity comes into your life, use it to your advantage, and continually remind yourself of all the good in your life. Finally, I will leave you with this thought: The Titanic was built by experts. The Ark was built by amateurs.