NO SAFE PLACE

What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? … I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation. [Romans 8:31, 38-39 (GW)]

Cathedral basilica of st. francis of assisi - hopeLast Friday, a crazed young man attacked a Munich shopping mall and ten were left dead. A few days earlier, an ax-wielding teen on a rampage hacked at passengers on a German train and, less than two weeks ago, 84 people died in Nice, France, after a terrorist plowed a truck into a crowd of Bastille Day celebrants. My 16-year old granddaughter has been living in Germany the last three weeks and my first reaction to these horrendous incidents was to get her home so she could be safe here with us. Unfortunately, she would be no safer here than there. I’m sure families thought their loved ones were safe last month in that Orlando nightclub where 50 were killed and another 53 injured or when they walked into their classroom at Umpqua Community College last October and nine were carried out on stretchers while another nine were carried out in body bags. Parishioners had no reason to fear when attending a prayer meeting in Charleston last year until a man opened fire and killed nine of them. While writing this devotion, news just broke of bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan, that left 80 dead and 231 wounded. Mass acts of hate and terror are becoming ever more frequent and it both alarms and sickens me that these horrific events are beginning to seem commonplace to us.

Unfortunately, there is no place where we are immune from the violence that surrounds us and there is no way we can protect our loved ones from the evil that is polluting our world. The Apostle Paul asked who could be against us and right now I can think of a whole host of foes: terrorism, hatred, prejudice, disease, corruption, and poverty to name just a few. But, if God is for us (and He surely is) none of these can defeat us. The one thing I know for sure is that we must never allow the horrors of the world to steal our love, hope and faith. Moreover, we must never permit fear and hate to take their place. Although we face an uncertain tomorrow, there is nothing unreliable or uncertain about our God. Fear leads to hate and we have no hope for the future unless we set fear aside. Trusting our Heavenly Father, we must walk bravely forward into each new day. Evil can steal lives but we must never let it steal our souls.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of? Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence in the Lord. I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek: to remain in the Lord’s house all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in his temple. [Psalm 27:1-4 (GW)]

May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13 (GW)]

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