We've become numb to terror. The first few hours, news of the attacks on Paris bled through social media, television news coverage was wall to wall and the sickening slow crawl at the bottom of the screen gave updated totals of the dead.
We shouldn't be afraid to go to the theater, a concert, restaurant, or a stadium.
But we are. At least for a few days.
For a few weeks, we might consider delaying our flight. For a month, the thought might flicker in our minds to avoid the packed arena. We spend a little more time thanking those who protect us and show gratitude and contribute financially to those who aid in a crisis. But if our silence leaked out and our tongues translated what our brain was thinking, we might say aloud. "That's not *our* blood on *our* soil. That's not us. It's them." 9/11 was us. The college campus shooting was us. The children's school massacre was us. The movie theater carnage was us. The Boston Marathon was us. We have our own domestic and terroristic problems.
Paris is far away. It's an ocean away from Saturday errands, little league games and grocery runs. It's only been a day or two and we move on. We fill up our gas tanks and buy gifts for Christmas. But maybe not on Black Friday. (Too populated then. Our logic changes for a little while, doesn't it?) And before church on Sunday, clergy everywhere set aside their written sermons and prepared for a different set of prayers to comfort their congregations and remind them of who is in control. Parents may tell their children about what Mister Rogers said, "In a crisis, don't be scared, look for the helpers. You'll always find the helpers."
After the horror of the events begin to fade and we slide back into the numbness of world violence and politics, it then becomes the "my's" verses the "we's". Those aren't my kids, my neighborhoods or my city. It's across the world. It's not *here.* Those lives matter, but do we feel them as deeply? Most of their refugees were scattered, broken and hungry. They're not terrorists, but all of them are now blamed. Our clunky defense mechanism says "We're not in the middle of that. The Parisians are handling it the best they can.
But the City of Lights went dark. The world grieved with Paris just like they did for us during 9/11. The world stands against those who seek to destroy peace on earth. We show our solidarity by copying and pasting pictures of the Eiffel Tower on our Facebook page and highlight profile pictures with the transparent red, white and blue overlay. We fill out our pride and hear a little bit of Lee Greenwood in our ear as major landmarks around the world bathe themselves in the colors of the French flag. Our arms sweep with goosebumps when world leaders have news conferences and speak against terrorism. They make a stand against those who bring forth the blood of others and themselves to make a point we don't understand.
God is not surprised by any of these events. God knows every heart, every beat and every malice. Centuries have passed, history repeats and the bible tells of persecution. All of it. God will heal the shattered hearts. The Holy Spirit will cover the broken. Jesus will be called upon, questioned and cursed but He is there. He is here. And He wants to listen. He knows your heart - your anger, your confusion, your feelings of revenge that you know you must push down but the anger still bubbles to the top and threatens to scald. Pray for peace. Pray for strong leadership. Pray for the devastated families even if they are a million miles away. They shed tears, just like you. They have sons and daughters just like you. Their hearts break and cry out in anguish, just like you.
Nous sommes avec Paris.
May God be with *all* of us.
Seeds to Share:
Psalm 34:14 - Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 - We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.