It has been a disturbing week, in more ways than I can actually process at this moment. The world once again changed last night, as terrorists, at least one of whom arrived on French shores in the guise of a refugee, set Paris aflame. The screaming today has reached fever pitch, amid an outpouring of mourning and sympathy for the people of Paris. Among some, there have been calls for gun control, or a lament that the heinous actions last night removed the spotlight from other things. Politicians across the spectrum have come to microphones today to tie this murderous spectacle to the things they support in their political platforms. Others have decried this, and yet, leaders must speak effectively into the heart cry that arises from such things.
In Christian circles there have been cries for the angels of God to rain destruction on the enemy, and cries for tolerance and understanding toward those who commit such acts. There have been cries for prayers for those affected, and a decrying of any who would dare speak out against the policies they believe have brought the world to this place. There have been others who decry the very call for prayer without the reflection on the policies, attitudes and ideologies our cultures have supported that have allowed malignant evil to flourish and blossom into coordinated gun-fire and bombs that rip life from innocent civilians. Overall, in all quarters, Christian and secular, there has been an outrage building, crying for a target but too untrained these days to be able to find an acceptable one. There is fear too, that fuels that outrage, about what comes next.
Earlier today, my husband asked me, as he sometimes does, what is the answer? The first words from my mouth were prayer and preparation. He said he liked that answer, but I am not so sure he did by the time I was finished explaining. Prayer, from a Christian perspective, is always the answer to such things of course. Prayer for those whose lives have been forever changed by this day. Prayer for those who lead the nations of the world. Prayer for our enemies to be convicted by Holy Spirit and brought to God. Prayer for our enemies to be defeated. Prayer for ourselves, that our hope will not flicker and our faith will not fail. But, and this is the harder part right now, prayer that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. That prayer, in moments such as these, should give our hearts pause and illuminate our need to prepare.
As I told my husband earlier today, the preparation needed is not so much physical as spiritual. There has been a phenomenon in the US the last decade or so of preppers. People who make it a part of their daily routine and mentality to be prepared at all times for the worst to happen. Stores of food, ammunition, weapons, water and cash to see them through the coming Armageddon they foresee as a result of increasing economic and societal instability. I don’t fault those folks for making their preparations. At the same time, it will not be enough if what they fear actually comes to pass. There will be no storehouse big enough, no stockpile equipped enough, no wall high enough to withstand the destruction ahead if we continue on the path we are currently treading. If we continue to walk blindly in our own folly instead of in God’s will. If we continue to look to men with feet of clay to save us from men with hearts of stone.
I am not one of those who believes the coming conflagration is inevitable in our lifetime, though the time for avoiding it is quickly passing. But, I do know with certainty that the answer to either stopping the destruction or surviving it is preparation of the soul. And I mourn today because I do not believe we in the West are willing to make that preparation. This week, while I was waiting to keep a meeting I had on Thursday, I had brought my Bible. I had to call my husband for directions and mentioned in passing I was not sure what I should read. He told me just to open it. It is a rare thing for me to use such methods of studying my Bible, and rarer still that I find some divine meaning in where I find myself in Scripture from such an exercise. Yet, the fact that so many were posting a later verse from that very book today seems to reinforce the disquieting message that sent on Thursday afternoon, before the world went up in flames again.
I found myself in Jeremiah. I have not read Jeremiah in many years, and the only verses that I ever associated really with that book are the ones at the beginning that describe Jeremiah’s call, and the one that went around the web today as the verse of the day. The one that reads “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper, not to harm you.” We always read that as a comforting verse, we speak it to each other in times of trial to assure one another that God indeed loves us and has a purpose and a plan, even in our darkest times, if we will just trust Him. I have not yet finished the book of Jeremiah, nor even reached chapter 29, where that verse resides. I began at the beginning, and in truth the book casts that verse in a very different light. This verse we cling to comes at the end of a book that foretold the fall of a people corrupted by proud hearts, who as the Scriptures says, has grown fat and sleek serving idols. The beginning of this book is a desperate cry from God to His people through the prophet Jeremiah for them to repent. It is a condemnation and rebuke, and a fulfillment of the curse of God’s judgment upon His people for breaking their covenant with Him.
We are a people grown fat and sleek seeking after other nations to strengthen us, seeking after man-made things to give us happiness and peace, seeking after the understanding and desires of our own evil hearts, rather than seeking after the God who saved us. Much like the people of Israel, we cry out Lord save us when our enemy strikes at our heels. Much like the people of Israel, we tell ourselves the Lord is with us and He is not angry with us, nothing bad can befall us. Much like the people of Israel, we speak peace, peace when there is no peace. Worse than the people of Israel, we tell ourselves that the Law is dead, erased by the New Covenant, and ignore the truth that Christ said to follow His commands. How much more have we broken the New Covenant, the better covenant than the Israelites were given? How many ways have we invented to do evil? How much do our priests and our prophets tell us pleasant lies, and how much do we rejoice to have it so?
This message of hope we cling to was a promise that after seventy more years of captivity in the lands of their enemy, God would once again turn His ear to the pleas of His people and deliver them. It was a promise to a people who repeatedly refused correction and rebuke until God delivered onto them His judgement and decimated their entire nation, giving them the choice between captivity in Babylon or death by famine and sword. It was a promise He decreed would not be fulfilled until those people had suffered enough to remember their God and return to Him in heart and not just in word. It was judgment passed against a people who instead of being faithful as God’s bride had prostituted themselves with the world on every hill and in every valley.
So, what is the answer to this clash of principalities that has once again spilled into the worldly realm? Pray, and prepare. Pray God’s will be done. Pray our hearts will be made ready to withstand the onslaught. Pray He will circumcise our hearts and we will once again be His people and He will be our God. There is no other answer to such a thing as this. There is no word we can speak on our own, no action we can take, no petition we can sign, no picture we can post that will stop the coming tide. Only God, in His power and might and in His divinely righteous time. May He have mercy on our souls and help us turn to Him.
Pray always, and glorify the Lord.