Hope in the age of violence; How should Christians respond to the terror and violence in our country and around the world?
As I was watching Dr. Oz and folding laundry last Wednesday afternoon, ‘Breaking News’ cut in to the station just as the show was ending.
‘Uh, oh,’ I thought. The live video appeared.
It was an all too familiar scene: a public place filled with cop cars and police officers in tactical gear; people lined up coming out of buildings with their hands in the air; paramedics and people on stretchers filling the streets.
What happened in San Bernadino, California is tragic. I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow the families must be going through. Not to mention the fear that the community must be experiencing.
My heart breaks when I hear the story of a school, a mall, or another ‘soft’ target under attack. Those intent on hurting people seem to be targeting common people who were just going about their business. When they got up to go to work that day, they had no idea it would be their last.
I have tried to imagine what I would be feeling if a mass shooting happened in my town. How would I process it?
How would I be feeling if the Wal-mart five minutes from my house was on the news because a shooter was gunning down people there; or, an office building along US-31; or, my church just down 146th street; or, the Regal 17 movie theater where I recently saw Jurassic World.
It could happen anywhere.
To be honest, I don’t know how to feel about another tragedy. I am torn between being filled with compassion and sympathy and feeling annoyed and angry. I am worn out with tragedy. The whole country is, I suspect.
It seems as though about every week or two we hear about another shooting. In the previous week it was a shooting in Texas. I can still see the face of the gunman with wild hair and a crazed look in his eyes.
And before that was the attack on Paris.
I remember Columbine so many years ago. It was April 20th, 1999. 12 students and 1 teacher were killed after a couple students went on a violent rampage. It was this nation’s first big school shooting where students were killed, at least in recent history.
Our nation was so naive and innocent up until that fateful day.
Gone are the days of feeling like our kids are safe when we send them to school. Gone are the days of feeling safe going to work or to the mall or to a movie or to a concert. Gone are the days when we could drop our kids off at college and know that they would be safe.
Gone is the innocence of the ‘wonder years’ in this country.
Maybe, we as a country were ignorant. ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ they say. Little did we know how drastically our country would change in the decades to come.
I remember the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20 children and 6 adults were killed. It crushed me to my core. I know many people across the nation experienced the same sorrow.
How can this happen?
How could someone hurt little children? . . . . practically babies?!
What is wrong with people?!
And then there is terrorism. The violence in Paris is a sobering reminder that it is not just the U.S. that is under attack, it is the whole world.
No one is safe anymore. Maybe we never were.
So, what do we do with all of this? How am I as a Christian supposed to react to these events? How is the body of Christ supposed to answer to the societal woes of the day?
We could . . . .
- become depressed and cynical
- become paranoid and paralyzed with fear
- get up in arms about politics and foreign policy
- stick our heads in the sand and pretend these events aren’t happening
As followers of Christ, we cannot let these events make us depressed or cynical. Why? Because we have too great a hope in Jesus Christ our Lord. We have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb! That has not changed, nor will it ever. No matter what we see on the news.
They can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. Luke 20:36
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
We need to show the world that our God is still the Lord of the universe. He is still The Creator, The Healer, The Comforter, The Lover of souls, and the Great I AM. He is unchanging. What a great comfort that is!
“I the Lord do not change” Malachi 3:6
Neither can we be gripped by fear. God is still on His throne. And He is still the Lord over all.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
He tells us not to be afraid–He’s got this! The world may fall apart, but we are His, and nothing can touch us.
For in the day of trouble
He will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5
Some are called to stand up and work the political/governmental system to bring about change and solutions. God bless those people. I am not one of them.
Those who are, must guard against appearing self-righteous. We don’t have all the answers, so let’s not pretend that we do.
And, for the world’s terrorism and violence, there may not be clear answers. In fact, I am quite sure there aren’t. At least not ones that will likely satisfies us.
God warned us of the trouble to come on this earth. We shouldn’t be surprised.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8
Nor can we just ignore the situation. We must show love and compassion when tragedy strikes. The parable of the good Samaritan tells us that we cannot just walk on by.
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Therefore, I won’t become depressed and cynical. I won’t give in to fear. And, I won’t stick my head in the sand.
So, what is a Christian to do?
The answer is never far from the old rugged cross. Where Christ paid the ultimate price.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
The answer lies in knowing who the true victor is. We know how this thing ends. God wins in the end. And God is good. Therefore, good wins!
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings Revelation 17:14
We must ask ourselves → “What is God calling me to do in response to the events of the last few weeks?”
Pray. Sometimes that’s all we can do.
I pray when I don’t know what else to do. I pray when there seems to be no answers. I pray when I need the comfort of a loving Father.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Our God is a big God. He is way bigger than anything that happens on earth. He has overcome the world! Halleluiah!! Nothing is too big for our God.
Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, Jeremiah 32:17
Remember this Christmas season that we have good news of a great joy! For all the evils of the world, a baby was born. A Savior, that is Christ the Lord! Because of His great sacrifice and love for us, the things of this world no longer have power over us. Amen!
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11