A Christian Response to Terror
A shooting at a concert, a terror attack on a New York City bike path, another shooting at a Texas church. Evil leaves nearly 100 dead in our country in the space of a few weeks! What do we do with this? How do we process it? What are the answers to the inevitable ‘where was God’ questions?
Our response to these events and others like them must be rooted in our perspective as citizens of the kingdom of God. It’s easy to be angry and emotional, to be stunned and silent but we are called to respond to terror in a biblical way. What is that way?
First, for people directly affected. There is nearly no end to the needs among these precious souls! Only God knows everything they will need over the coming days, months and years to cope with this traumatic experience. We know they need healing, comfort, peace, assurance and God’s love.
Second, pray for the first responders. They are shocked by the trauma they witness and must stand strong in the face of unbelievable grief and horror. They need continued strength, endurance, wisdom and peace.
Third, pray for all the follow up care that must take place. Many will require extensive medical care. Scores will need ongoing emotional and spiritual support and encouragement. All those who minister to their needs will need wisdom and grace in great abundance!
We see these terror events unfold on local and national television and through numerous on-line sources. The story lines captivate the audiences for a few days and then the media races on to the latest thing.
However, the trauma of these events impacts the lives of those effected for months and years. We should not race ahead and forget all that is still needed.
Ongoing sensitivity should mark our actions and words. With the gross sin and evil all around us, we must understand that what we say and what we do impacts people profoundly. There are still many dealing with deep pain and sorrow from Columbine, Sandy Hook and Orlando!
Where was God in all of this?
I believe that God was in mourning as these events unfolded. He didn’t create us to destroy one another. He desires peace and unity in his creation not terror. When evil men act to end innocent lives, our responses are similar to God’s responses. We are created in his image. Our emotions mirror his emotions. That leads us to the next question.
Why did he allow it to happen?
To answer that question we must understand a little about who God is. We know God is sovereign. His sovereignty can be defined in three ways:
First, his sovereign will governs the entire spiritual world. He defined sin and salvation. He initiated the incarnation of Jesus and will bring the world to an end according to his plan. Nothing can derail God’s overall plan for redemption of mankind and his creation.
Second, his expressed will is found in the Bible. For example, “the Lord is not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” Therefore, he continues to work through his church to bring people to salvation. There are many other examples of God’s expressed will in the Bible. These are the things God wants to have happen.
Finally, there is God’s permissive will. Since he created us in his image, he gave us free will. We can choose whatever we want to choose. We can choose good and we can choose evil. Because of his integrity, God will not stop us from choosing evil no matter how small or large.
When things like this happen, it is not evidence that God doesn’t care, it’s proof that evil in the world is alive and active. The whole earth is under siege from the power of sin and darkness.
The final word (at least for today)
We must carry on with the work of Jesus in the wake of great tragedy and trauma. That means we pray, we give time and money as it is needed, we submit to Jesus’ leadership and leave our stubborn, judgmental self behind. Most importantly, we learn to love just like Jesus – a risky, unconditional love.
Today, seek the peace of God. Find encouragement in fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Carry comfort and joy to someone who is hurting. And, share this post with someone to help them cope with these great tragedies.