Finding Hope in Our Age of Terrorism

In recent days, an Australian nationalist shot and killed 49 worshipers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter appeared to film the attack on a head-mounted camera, live streaming the 17-minute incident to Facebook. The social media company has since taken down the shooter’s video. This heartbreaking terrorist act has left millions feeling brokenhearted.

In the last 2 verses of Psalm 34, King David of ancient Israel, the likely writer of this psalm mentioned “the wicked.” Whom did David have in mind? In David’s day God’s people had no greater military enemy than the Philistines. We might say that the wicked Philistines were the terrorists of David’s day.

The Philistines were part of a larger movement of people called the “Sea Peoples.” In 1188 BC they invaded Egypt. As they moved into areas bordering on present-day Greece and Turkey, they made war with anyone in their paths. The Philistines were vicious people.

We don’t have Philistines in our day, but we do have terrorists (think radical Islam, ISIS, Boko Haram, right wing nationalist extremists, and others). How are you and I to maintain our hope in light of continuous news stories of acts of terrorism?

People Will Reap What They Sow
Verse 21 of Psalm 34 states, “Evil will slay the wicked.” That is, the wicked will be overcome by their own evil actions. This Old Testament verse sounds similar to a New Testament verse, Galatians 6:7: “A man reaps what he sows.”

We humans need to know what is at stake. We can turn up our noses at God’s standards, ignore Him, and make our sinful choices. But every act of sin carries its consequences. We will reap the consequence of our bad choices.

You Never Will Be Disappointed That You Placed Your Hope in God
“No one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:22). Terrorist killings in our day prompt us to look for something to place our trust and hope in. The Bible points us clearly to our Heavenly Father, God. You never will regret that you took refuge in Him.

I love how Romans 10:11 expresses a similar thought: “Anyone who trust in him will never be put to shame.”

Pray Fervently for Terrorist Victims and Their Families
Pray for persons injured or harmed by terrorist barbarity. Pray for families who lose loved ones. Pray for governments forced to respond to terrorist activities. Don’t forget to pray, too, for military personnel, firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, doctors, and nurses. These caring folks really are living out Jesus’ words: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Grieve and Mourn
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). I believe it is appropriate for us to grieve the loss of life caused by terrorism. These senseless deaths remind us of the sanctity of human life. Mourn the fact that our world is corrupted by evil and sin.

God Is in Charge
2 phrases are juxtaposed in vv.21 and 22 of Psalm 34: “Evil will” (v.21) and “The Lord” (v.22). God always wins over evil. When we ring disturbing news reports about terrorist activities it’s easy to wring our hands in despair and wonder what will come of it all.

Always remember, God is still in charge. God’s foes will be condemned. God will redeem His people. God is still on His throne. No terrorist threat or activity catches God by surprise.

God gives humans the freedom to make their moral choices. Sometimes, individuals and groups of people make wrong choices that result in pain, bloodshed, carnage, and fear. God is not pleased with those choices nor is He unfeeling toward victims of terrorism. But our poor choices never negate God’s sovereign rule over our universe.

Remember, Bible hope is not “just wishing,” but rather full confidence that God will keep every promise He has made to us in the pages of the Bible. And that’s where true hope is found.

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