Penetrating the Heart of Terror
What would God have us do to combat violence?
As I watch news reports of violent terror groups murdering countless innocents and displacing tens of thousands of people, I think about how Christians should respond to such violence. Today, many people around the world—and many Christians among them—are under threat of violence from extremist groups; for some it is a visible and immediate threat to their lives each day.
Johnnie Moore, author of Defying ISIS, reports on ISIS’s treatment of Christians in a town along the Nineveh Plain. As ISIS’s militants overran the town, they screamed, “shall we start beheading women and children or start with the old and the disabled? … we will behead all of you unless you convert.”
In such terrible circumstances as these, we must turn to Scripture. Opening my Bible to Psalm 37, I find that the psalmist’s words could easily describe the world today.
“The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives” (Psalm 37:32). In the same chapter we read, “The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but,” verse 13 concludes, “the Lord laughs at the wicked” (Psalm 37:12-13).
You might have expected the psalmist to say, “but the Lord protects the righteous” or “but the Lord destroys the wicked,” but instead—God just laughs. Why? The answer is short, but by no means simple: “… for He knows their day is coming” (Psalm 37:13).
While our instinct is to curse our enemies and hope for their destruction, God laughs. He laughs because He knows that their own evil will be their undoing: “The wicked draw the sword … to slay those who are upright … But their swords will pierce their own hearts” (Psalm 37:15). Those who use violence and terror to gain the world today will lose it for eternity.
But in the meantime, we
still wonder, Lord, why not defy this
evil now? Why not end it today?
God’s judgment is final in every sense. It comes at the end. It is always the absolute and last word. The Lord waits patiently to judge everyone, no matter who they are, because He wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). In the meantime, we are told, “Love your enemies and pray for them,” (Matthew 5:44). For those of us watching terrible events unfold, our job is to pray that those in danger will be protected and that the hearts of our enemies will be softened.
The Lord reinforced His message to me when I read a report by Al Goff of the Global Aid Network.“Do you know what the number one request is from Christians being persecuted by ISIS?” He writes, “It’s that we as a church would all heed Christ’s call to pray for our enemies and pray for ISIS.”
Some might argue that a call to pray is too simple to be a real solution. Try it. There’s nothing simple about fighting in prayer for lost souls that most would deem irrecoverable and winning them to Christ. A heart changed through prayer can literally save lives here on earth and for eternity. Pray until this crisis ends.
Dear Merciful God, open spiritually blind eyes so violent groups will see the light of the gospel. Cause them to come to their senses and escape the devil’s traps. Set them free from the bondage of sinful desires to rob, steal and destroy. Reveal Yourself to them so they will put aside deeds of darkness. Soften their calloused hearts to receive Your unfailing love, mercy and grace. Thank you, Lord, for rescuing and saving even the most undeserving sinner.(2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; Matthew 13:15; Ephesians 4:32)
Pam Enderby lives in Shawnee Kansas.