Hello friends. As you know, lots of crazy things have taken place this past week. So I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve been experiencing, and a little bit of the effect these recent attacks in Paris have had on me.
Last Monday, November 9th, 2015, I found myself up until 2 and 3 in the morning researching the religion of Islam, and googling things like “What separates peaceful Muslims from the extremists?” and “What kind of person was Muhammed?” I felt like I’d been slacking on current events, and what was going on the past two or so years ISIS has been around. I knew about al-Qaeda, and was alive through 9/11, but was way too young to comprehend what was really going on. I knew it was a responsibility of mine as an American and as a Christian to stay educated for myself rather than be dependent on some random tweet I found (because there are a lot of idiots on twitter).
So somehow, I found myself engulfed in all things Islam, reading up on the separation between the Sunni’s and the Shiites (correct me if I’m wrong (which I don’t think I am) but ISIS are Sunni extremists). I dove straight into a world I felt I should of known about years ago.
This all took place Monday-Thursday morning of last week. As Thursday night came, the topic of conversation with a friend at church switched to my love for Paris. I took a trip there with my family Spring of 2014, so I started showing her pictures, and going on and on about the magic you feel as soon as you arrive, a feeling most people get when they are blessed to visit this incredible city.
Friday, November 13th, 9:20 pm. As my family and I were on our way to a church service, we turned on the radio to hear that the first of 6 terrorist attacks had taken place outside the city of Paris. Sheer terror filled the streets of France, and the rest of the Western World tuned in as we found out as this beloved country was now under the attack of Islamic extremists.
My heart fell to the floor. I was devastated. Perplexed. Confused. This whole thing totally rattled me. I kept asking myself why I had the sudden urge that I did to learn about these very people. Why Paris was brought up the night before when I typically don’t talk about it too much. Why Paris was attacked by these people. As I said, my family and I were headed to church, and as you can imagine I was totally distracted the whole service (sorry mom and dad).
I may not have found the answers to these questions (not sure if this was spiritual or just a crazy super weird coincidence) but the confusion led to a weekend filled with tears, lots of news anchors, and a good amount of angry journaling (cause really what else was I supposed to do). I found myself afraid to go out to lunch with a friend, and the whole time I was there every cell phone ring, dog bark and car horn made me twitch and freak out.
But what was so comforting was to see how the city of Paris, and France as a whole, were refusing to let fear stop them from living their normal everyday lives. I was happy to know there was still joy and peace to be found in such a devastating situation.
And then I remembered, “Oh yea, I’m a Christian!”
In the midst of the chaos and confusion, I heard the Lord say, “breathe in, breathe out.”
I decided to listen, and in an instant, the peace of God covered me like a blanket. I was able to think straight. I could smile again. I didn’t feel afraid to leave my home. It was as simple as breathing. I switched my focus to the things of God, His power, His omnipotence.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
So I urge you, whatever city, state, or country you’re in, to not be afraid. We do not have to fight with fear or with hate, but with prayer and love.
For the Muslims and Christians living in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kurdistan and so on, there are Christian brothers and sisters praying for you. We’re praying against the spirit of radicalization in your countries. That peace, not fear, would flood your hearts. We know that the issues of our world are beyond political, they’re beyond what our president can and can’t do. God is ultimately in control, and all that the enemy meant for evil, God can turn around for good. Let’s not forget about the story of Joseph as he found his brothers that had betrayed him as a teenager:
Genesis 50:20 “You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good. He planned to do what is now being done. He wanted to save many lives.”
God saved the lives of thousands through a man who was betrayed by his very own brothers. A man who should have been dead, who should have been bitter and vengeful toward his family, but instead was confident in the plan and purpose God had for him. In-turn God showed insurmountable favor on Joseph, and brought forth life and provision for His people.
Do not let fear overcome you. Breathe. Refocus.
Deuteronomy 20:1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.”
Matthew 16:18 “ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”