I’d very much like to lock my children up. Don’t worry, I won’t do it (to be fair, you’re lucky to get a door actually shut in our house let alone locked), but you know what I mean, right? Keep them where I can see them, always, and know who and what is influencing them. Having grown up in the 80s in Northern Ireland, I’ve never been a stranger to the fact that there is evil in the world and that bad things happen that shock and stun and leave a trail of suffering, but, I think, that as a parent, the reality of ‘the bad stuff’ is heightened when you suddenly have little people entrusted to your care and protection.
I think it’s safe to say that the events in Paris on Friday evening have left us all a little numb. The ‘How could one person plan to do that to another person, let alone one you know nothing about?’; the ‘How on earth do you start to deal with this?’ and, the ‘What ifs?’. I don’t think I’m alone in any of these trains of thought – so how the people directly affected feel, I cannot even begin to appreciate.
Watching the news since Friday, a real sense of deep sadness and, to some degree, uncertainty have been prevalent and , I know that it reminds me once again that above all else, I want to protect my children, as far as I possibly can, from all the evil and badness that exists. That I don’t want them to be overcome with fear or for them to get caught up in something that will hurt them. That I want them to be safe and secure, even in a world that can be uncertain and, let’s face it, downright scary.
Burdened with a sense of deep sadness and, I suppose, confusion, I had the awesome priveledge this morning of hearing a visitor speak at our morning service and, my word, what a breath of fresh air and encouragement he proved to be. My heart was lifted and a ‘bigger picture’ took shape in my mind. This man – now in his 91st year, told of experiences he had had while serving as a missionary in the Congo. I laughed, I cried, I gasped in shock, as he shared some of his life experiences. But, above all this, I left with a fresh perspective.
In the midst of dark days, where Fear is trying hard to take hold, there is still hope. Miracles still happen and even the most unexcpected lives can be changed – for good. I believe in prayer; I believe in God who answers prayer. And I believe that while not all prayers are answered the way we want them to be, for reasons we will probably never know on this earth, the power of prayer – and, more importantly, the Answerer, is never something to be underestimated.
I don’t know that I could easily make the decision to forgive someone who set out to wrong me or someone I loved, but I do know this, that if there was anything I could do to prevent someone wanting to wrong my loved ones, I’d do it. And so, instead of focusing on fear, bouyed up by the reminder that ‘Perfect love casts out fear’, being reminded of the Hope that has definitely not gone away, I trust in the One who shut the mouths of the lions in the den with Daniel; the One who stopped the fire from burning Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; the One who changed the heart of Saul on the road to Damascus; the One who brought Lazarus back from the dead.
In an uncertain world, I cling to hope and I pray. I pray that lives will continue to be changed, just as they have been in years that have passed. That those who plot destruction and terror, who see a cause worth destroying their own as well as others’ lives for, will be changed. Call me a fool, tell me it’s all a bit pointless. In the eyes of the world, I probably am and it probably is. But I am not putting my hope in this world, I choose to put my hope in the One who made it and trust and pray that something incredible can happen. That even the hardest of hearts can be changed for good. Jjust imagine what a world this would be if every act of hate became an act of love and every desire to hurt became a burden to care. I can think of many times I’ve regretted my anger, but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted an act of love or kindness.
That’s the kind of world I’d like for my children. And that’s why as a family, we pray that hearts will be changed and that rather than fear, we willl have hope. If I can’t keep my children locked under my care, then I went to send them into the world full of hope and love and, I trust and pray, that that’s exactly what they’ll get back in return.
There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.