Many of us come to this Wednesday morning with mixed emotions – sorrow, anger, confusion – all competing to own our thoughts. Just in case you have not heard, about 3 pm yesterday in New York City, a man driving a rented truck sped into a bike lane, mowing down bikers in his path. He continued until he slammed into a school bus. 8 died, 12 more are injured, several critically. He left his truck, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and carrying a paintball gun, which he waved at police, apparently hoping to be killed. Is he deranged? Was this an act of terror? A note in his truck reportedly said he was acting on instructions from ISIS.
When I saw the story unfolding in the news, I was sad for the families who will grieve the murder of their loved ones and for those who will carry scars, physical and emotional, for the rest of their lives. My prayers for them were groans, deep sighs, and a cry for healing. There was an awful dread that rose in me at the same time, as I realized that this man’s actions will stoke the fires of hatred with fuel. So many will use this man’s horrific actions as a reason to vilify others, to dig deeper into a fortress mentality that divides the world into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ The volume of the words of war will be turned up and the drums of war will beat louder.
I desire justice, a measured response that is fed by thought, not emotion! I am very thankful for those who stand for me to keep order – police and soldiers who say to those intent on destruction – “Not here!” I pray for their safety and their wisdom. At the very same time, Christ Jesus teaches me that my first response must not be finding a bigger gun, nor is it to hate all those of Islamic faith. Are you saying, “Oh, come on, Jerry. What’s wrong with you?” What’s wrong is the world in which I live, a world held captive by sin and Satan. As a disciple of the Prince of Peace, I cannot hope to build His kingdom, if I join the chorus of voices seeking revenge.
Christian, center yourself, anew, in the Promise of God’s care.
Gather up your thoughts and carry them to a place of prayer.
Afraid for the future? Tell Him.
Confused by the rise of evil? Tell Him.
Yes, it is a familiar line but the familiarity does not diminish the truth of it. “He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:9-11, NLT)
Pray for those in law enforcement and those in our government, that the Lord will grant them insight and wisdom. They are mere mortals and times like these demand so much of them. It is good to pray often for those who lead us, asking God to draw them to Himself. I pray that those who hold power will be blessed with the likes of Daniel who stood before kings with godly wisdom.
And, in the discussions of the day, be a voice that builds bridges, that resists blind rage, that seeks understanding. The Spirit of God will help you, if you will ask Him. Remember Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV) More than anything, I want to live in a way that honors my Father, don’t you?
Abba, Father, my heart is torn up –
a jumble of sorrow, anger, and confusion this morning.
I ask, Holy Spirit, that Your Presence will surround me,
that your peace that confounds human understanding will steady me.
I pray for those who protect me – that You will protect them.
Grant them wisdom and insight.
For those who are making decisions of response today, I pray for wisdom, Lord.
Temper the desire for revenge with a commitment to justice.
And, as You taught us, Jesus, we pray –
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
Let Your grace and mercy own my heart today, I pray
in Jesus’ Name, Amen.