The recent terrorist attacks are a tragedy that rightly leads to weeping and grief. I think these are good ways to honor those who lost their lives, to identify with those who were closest to the tragedy, and to, over time, heal from the jarring experience of being affected by such violence and evil.
I very much feel the emptiness of words in responding to your honest, heartfelt post. However, I don’t know how to silently ‘sit with you’ on an online community. So, I will try some words, but know that my heart aches for those who were most affected by this malicious attack.
Two stories from the Bible come to mind.
One is the story of Jesus. He prayed to his Heavenly Father for protection from evil in the Garden of Gethsemane:
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41-42).
Jesus knew the suffering that he was about to experience. He did not want to suffer. Yet, he was willing to suffer out of faithfulness to God. And, in his suffering and death, we have a powerful, powerful hope.
Though our brothers and sisters in Christ died sooner than we would have wanted, and we now have to live in the awful experience of hurt and grief, there is something to remember. Evil doesn’t get the final world. Hallelujah! The Lord Jesus has taken them into his presence where they will rejoice forever. If this life is all there is, then terrorism can win the day. But because of the suffering that Jesus saw and then walked into, the sting of death has been removed.
Another is the story of James the brother of John which appears side-by-side with Peter’s deliverance from jail. We read in Acts 12:
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
We see here that Peter’s very freedom, if not his life, was in great danger. Yet, the church earnestly prayed for him, and God provided a supernatural deliverance. At the same time, we learn that God permitted Herod to kill James the brother of John.
I can’t explain why Peter and James received different treatment! Yet, what we can be confident of is that both of them are now in the presence of God. Death was inevitable for them, and for us. Whatever its timing, either due to evil or to natural causes, we want to be united with Christ, faithfully serving the Lord, knowing his grace for our sins.