We are often both frightened and angered when we hear about terrorists.
Often the collective response favors killing them or capturing them and punishing them.
Sometimes we are encouraged to accept a little “collateral damage.” That is accept that others who were not terrorists might also be killed or injured in a “measured response.”
Attempting to find ways to focus anger does not eliminate the fear that there may be more terrorists not accounted for. They may show up at any moment.
Having such times as 9/11 burned into our consciousness does not help. We certainly should never forget that atrocities happened. We should never attempt to rewrite history.
But, we should learn from it in the right way. While we remember what happened, we should also remember how God worked in amazing ways to bring people together in a caring community.
We should remember and recognize our powerlessness. Such memory should prompt us to understand God is God and we are not.
How do we deal with terrorism? We can begin by praying not only for the victims, but also for the terrorists themselves.
What does God want for terrorists? He put it very simply and directly.
“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
What can such a response do? Consider the case of an outspoken Christian named Stephen. He was stoned for his testimony.
But in the midst of being killed, Stephen called out to God, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
One might think this was the end of the story except for one little detail that Luke included in his account. The coats of those who were doing the stoning were laid at the feet of a man named Saul.
Many would have seen Saul as a terrorist, but God knew The Plans He had for Saul. Even though there is no recording of Saul’s response to Stephen that day, God had planted the seeds.
Saul later became Paul who preached, taught and lived Love. He wrote many of the books of the New Testament, including the famous Love chapter of First Corinthians.
Somewhere out there in this present time, there is a man or woman, who believes they are doing God’s Will by killing and terrorizing others.
They do not know yet that God has very different Plans for them. They may be the next Paul for this generation.
We need to pray for them … that their lives be protected … that they hear the Words of Life, even in times and places they ever expected … that they turn and be saved … and save others.
And who knows but one day you may meet them in Heaven and get to see together how far your prayer has gone.
I like to think Stephen was among those waiting for Paul in Heaven. I like to think when Paul arrived, Stephen embraced him and joined God in saying,
“Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into The Joy of your Lord!”