Where is God: Grace the Morning after Paris
Grace for everyone today.
ISIS, those cowardly enemies of humanity, have claimed responsibility for seven coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France that have taken the lives of at least 128 people on the night of Friday, November 13.
And here in the U.S., early in the morning on Saturday the 14th, all I can think about is how much goodwill I have toward my fellow man. How is it possible that the same feeling I have on days like Christmas and Easter - where I somehow lean further toward making sure that person gets a smile and this woman gets asked if she needs anything and that guy gets an extra fiver and that dude who cut me off in traffic doesn’t bother me and that old friend gets a sympathetic ear - can be just as present, if not more so, in the midst of tragedy? (And why should any other day ever be any different?)
Where is God when atrocities happen and humans suffer? I can only conclude He’s right here with us, working in the hearts of those who remain. He’s found in the togetherness of our spirits. He’s working in my deepest places to help me see the needs of the world and shake me from slumber. He’s comforting my children with prayer and peaceful discussion. He’s welcoming home more of His own children while steeling survivors with purpose against unspeakable evil. He’s giving you and I every excuse to share the story of His Son and His gospel of salvation.
God is nothing if not an active, present, worshipful source of hope.
But what about the French families torn apart? What about the blood-spattered witnesses who survived, traumatized? Grace. Theirs will be the hardest road, but theirs will not be the only road. Others will no doubt walk a similar path soon. As the French stood with us on 9/11, so we will stand with them in their efforts to avenge the rape upon their sovereign home. May our resources – in all their forms – find their way to assisting their needs in all areas. May new friendships be formed, may faith be restored, may we never forget.
What about the person on the other side of the political aisle from me who will, probably sometime later today or tomorrow, stop grieving alongside me and spin this horrifying event toward his or her own agenda? Grace. This person is not my enemy, neither in the biblical view nor in the situation at hand.
What about that spouse I’ve been arguing with, that prodigal child who won’t yet return home, that boss who doesn't understand me, that coach who won’t play my daughter at the right position? Grace. Obvious, incredible grace!
What about me? What about all my worries? What about my financial troubles, heartaches, sickness, wounds and needs? Grace. Today is a chance to tackle these topics indirectly, to focus on others and somehow find that you have softened the sharp edges of your problems or even encountered a solution. May your remaining days here, however many in number, be spent with eyes outward and upward, and may the grace and hope and blessings God is always pouring out be yours to cling to in abundance this Thanksgiving season.
What about my Muslim neighbor? Grace. Please, for the love of God’s children, grace.
And finally, what about ISIS?
Phew. That’s where the wind gets punched out of me. Would it be "grace" to wish their network of fear and terror a swift and graceful end? Their twisted ideology is incompatible with a free world. Their unloving existence should not communicate a lack of a God over humanity, but proof of His real spiritual enemy. Pride was his downfall, fear is his currency, repentance is not his game. Yet he exists, for now, powerful but powerless, hungry but toothless, often appearing as an angel of light but rarely showing his true face so obviously as in the past 24 hours. In God’s ultimate show of grace, he has already lost and his days are numbered. May the same be said for ISIS.
Grace. What else do I have to give?
I'm angry. But not with you. Not anymore.
At least, in the midst of all this darkness, there's that small light.
Shawn McEvoy is the Managing Editor of Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: November 14, 2015