Read Luke 10:25-37
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; [God] saves those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18 CEB)
It has been a week since the terrible attacks that were simultaneously waged on the people of Paris, France. In those attacks 129 were killed, including one American, and tons more were injured. It was the bloodiest attack on France since World War II and the country was seriously thrown into a state of emergency as the French government tries to figure out how to cope amid such evil. On top of this, as evidence of the small world we live in, it turns out that there were people I knew over in Paris during the night of the attacks.
Instantly, in response to these attacks, people started showing their solidarity with France and the French people, by flying French Flags and by changing their profile pictures and covers to the French flag and/or French colors. Youy can go anywhere on Facebook without seeing a billion little French Flag icons, each of them represent a person who is standing in compassionate solidarity for the country of France and the city of Paris. It doesn’t take too long to remember back to September 11, 2001 to remember that when the United States of America was attacked, the French flew the American Flag in solidarity with us.
Aside from all of the positive reaction to the egregious evil that was committed against the French people on that evening of Friday, November 13th, there has been some negative reaction as well. Out of fear people are saying all sorts of things. When fear strikes at our hearts, we often find ourselves rationalizing and justifying things that would horrify us in normal situations. I have heard a Christian pastor on YouTube calling out the sins of France as a reason for the attacks, much like some pastors did in the days following September 11th. Conversely, there are no doubt antitheists who have seen this as just another reason why religions should be eradicated from the world. Such people perpetuate the old, tired and groundless argument that “religion is the cause of all of the world’s wars.” That is of course just as untrue and ridiculous as the aforementioned pastor’s egregious theology that God used the attacks to “punish” the French people.
Of course, there are egregious political claims being made as well. All of these things, in the end, continue the work to divide, rather than unite, humanity. Why is it that human beings can’t seem to find common ground on anything. Even as millions show the French colors in solidarity with their pain and suffering, others are divisively working to drive more fear and separation in the hearts of those around them? Where is God in all of this? Where is God in the attacks? Where is God in the aftermath of the attacks? Where is God in the midst of such crazed and poisonouss rhetoric?
The truth is that God is present through the people who are showing their love to the French people and to all peoples who suffer. Through the neighbors who pulled strangers into their homes to shelter them from the terrorists, to the first responders literally picking people, and sometimes pieces of people, off of the streets of Paris, to the millions flying French colors to show their love and support, GOD IS PRESENT and GOD IS WORKING. God is present through the psychologists, the doctors, the nurses, and hospital workers. God is present through the humanitarian workers seeking to relieve the French people, as well as the countless refugees seeking refuge from persectution. God does not discriminate the way we do. God does NOT “punish” people. We are the ones who punish each other and ourselves with hateful and ungodly ideas and theologies. The question for us is, where are we? Where are we in all of this? Are we with God in the midst of such senseless and evil tragedies, or are we with the divisive and wicked world? My prayer is that we find ourselves standing with God in solidarity with and support of the hurt, the hopeless and the displaced.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Be wary of any belief or ideology that promotes division between you and your fellow human beings.” – Unknown, shared by Eugene Steficek on Facebook
Lord, place in the lives of the lost, the broken, the hurt, the hopeless, and the displaced so that I may stand in solidarity with and support of them. Amen.