Let us go on bravely!

By Steve Beard

“There is no shame in feeling fear, or sorrow, or terror. There is no shame in shaking with grief, and loss, and shock,” writes the Rev. Elizabeth Glass Turner after the bloody and gruesome Friday night terror attack in Paris. “There is no shame in finding your mind paralyzed, your heart numb, your eyes glazed. No, there is no shame in bolting awake in the dark night with your heart pounding.”

Joan of Arc on Decatuer StreetThe ghastly and wanton violence is seemingly incomprehensible. Within the last year, two indescribably vicious attacks were launched on the City of Lights. “Evil is not the narrative of terror: terror is the narrative of evil. That which destroys for destruction’s sake; that which desecrates for desecration’s sake; that which relishes in inflicting suffering for suffering’s sake; that which forces death unannounced for death’s sake – this is the nature of evil,” Turner writes.

For the Christian, however, bloodthirsty darkness never has the final word. “In the midst of fear, grief, paralysis, and panic, there remains a quiet, immovable promise – the kind of promise that doesn’t erase suffering, but buys it out and remodels it,” Turner, a United Methodist clergyperson and managing editor of the website Wesleyan Accent, writes. “This hushed promise of granite-like solidity transcends laughter, happiness and joy. It includes hope but exists outside of your ability to hope.”

When we are panic-struck, we take comfort in a divine protective hand: ” So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). We cling to the words of Jesus, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:10).

“We are not at the mercy of terrorists,” Turner writes. “They are at our mercy as we live in flesh and blood and bone the loving mercy of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel-God-With-Us, who was and is and is to come. As the orange-suited martyrs cried to Jesus on their sandy beach deathbeds, evil crumpled. They have no power over Jesus Christ, they have no power over the world to come, they have no power over your soul.” 

In the midst of the worldwide display of sympathy for France on social media, a well-known French cartoonist appealed for no more Twitter hashtag prayers for Paris. Joann Sfar, one of the illustrators from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, posted a message that read, “Friends from the whole world, thank you for #PrayforParis, but we don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life! Champagne and joy! #Parisisaboutlife.”

I fear that many of my Christian friends were offended at his response. In our prayers for the peace of Paris, we should not be surprised or offended by such a reaction from a staunchly secular nation and an outspokenly atheist satirist. We should turn the other cheek and continue to pray. Our faith teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. We light candles to show our solidarity and we present flowers to show our condolences.

Anyone who has been to Paris can attest to it brimming with life and art and culture and beauty – all things despised and rejected by the pinched heart and vision of the terrorist. Knowing it may fall on deaf ears, I want Sfar to know that faith and religion are not the same things. As believers, we, too, believe in music and kissing and champagne and joy! And we pray. It is part of our zest for life, joie de vivre.

“We pray for boldness and courage. We pray for peace, for healing, for comfort, for hope,” Turner concludes. “We pray for faithfulness, for wisdom, for vision. We pray for Spirit-led choices, for grace, for redemption. And we pray for those who blow themselves up, kill other people, threaten and bully, remembering the Apostle Paul, who, before he met Christ, harassed believers and breathed murderous threats against them.”

In our sorrow, we whisper, “Lord have mercy.”

Steve Beard is the editor of Good News. To read Elizabeth Glass Turner’s complete article, click HERE.

Comments

  1. Darrell Test says

    How do we want live in safety (physical safety), in this world of terrorist activity? We need the kind of articles, advise and actions that will help us maintain a safe civil society for our children and grandchildren. I do not see that happening.

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