The news is enough to make anyone depressed. It seems that everyday something new has happened, something worthy of our tears and thoughts and prayers. I feel like I never have enough outrage and sadness to spread between all that goes wrong every day.
Today, my heart and mind turns to France, the country that stole my heart and three and a half months of my life. Yesterday, pain and anguish struck the country in the form of a what seems to be a terrorist attack, the third major attack in just 18 months. In French the word for terrorist attack is “un attentat” and the French people have had more than their share of attentats recently.
In the attack yesterday, a man drove a truck through a mile of French Independence Day (Bastille Day) revelers, mowing down 84 people, 10 of them children. This is all while France is still in a state of emergency from the attacks last November in Paris.
At this point, what can President Hollande say with confidence? This sorrow overwhelms the country, and they look to their leader, and what is he to say? He can’t say “it will all be alright” because it’s not. Hundreds of French people have died at the hands of radicals who kill civilians seemingly at random. What can Hollande say to his people to encourage them?
My time in France was so meaningful and memorable, but one thing that stuck out to me was how secular it is. While they retain their Catholic roots through the culture, that’s the extent of it, simply culture.
In the midst of the pain and horror of an attack like this, the Gospel shines clearly and beautifully. After a terrorist attack, everything feels so fragile. Everything that you’ve known as to the way the world works has changed indelibly. And you want it to go back to the way that it is, but if you truly think about it, nothing will ever be the same. Because this everyday life routine is simply an illusion. When you live in a broken, fallen world, chaos and hurt rule supreme.
But the Gospel shines through because you realize that if this is it, then what the heck are we going through all of this pain for? When you believe in Jesus, you mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15) and you cry out with all of creation, hoping it will be set free from its bondage to corruption (Rom. 8:21) and trusting Jesus has a plan to make it so. But you also have hope and joy in a better future, one that has no terrorists, and no pain and hurt, but merely exceeding joy and the presence of the King.
I can only hope that the people of France will place their trust and hope in Jesus in the midst of dealing with this tragedy. He heals. He transforms. He renews. And He is so, so good. He reigns supreme above the ugliness and terror of this world. Thank God for that.