Thoughts on the Paris Attacks

I was shocked Saturday morning when I turned on the TV and saw the live footage and heard the reports of the attacks. My prayers automatically went out to the French people and my heart ached for those who had been hurt by this horrible event. It still does.

Throughout the day I kept checking the TV and social media and all I saw was Paris Attacks Latest, Paris Attacks News, Paris Attacks Breaking News and so on until I couldn’t hear/see it any more. I had the luxury of turning the TV/Phone/Computer off to get away from it for a short time. But my thoughts didn’t turn off.

To see the map of the attacks made me think that the true target was the stadium (where the President was) and the rest was a distraction to divert the police and other agencies. Why target so many areas that are close together and one so far away?

One post/article I read suggested that those other targeted areas were to make a political statement suggesting that they are not just attacking the French but any westerner including tourists who just happened to be there.

I’m not sure about that, but then again, I don’t think like these people so I don’t know their intent. But it does seem odd to me to target so many similar places in one group and then only one other place by itself. Surely if they were wanting to make a statement like that, they would have other targets that would have more of an impact? Sure, they are probably guarded with tighter security, but the terrorists don’t seem to care about their own safety otherwise they wouldn’t be doing this in the first place.

Yesterday, I read the post on The River Walk entitled ‘Pray for Paris’ (click here if you want to read it too) and I have to agree with the author that these attacks, and many others like it in other parts of the world, are evil and the families of the victims of such attacks need our prayers.

But that’s not what we are all about as Christians. We are also supposed to pray for our enemies and forgive them. Now, I know what you are thinking. How are we supposed to forgive people that do such terrible things? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s not something that I want to do, but I am called to do. And forgiveness does not mean that I like them.

In high school I was bullied by a fellow student, specifically about my Christian beliefs and Christian music tastes. He never knew it, but I prayed for him, and it struck me that he was secretly crying out for God’s attention. One day he tried to tease me about Petra coming to town for a concert and asked if I was going (with a sneer and teasing type of tone of voice). I replied, ‘Yes, do you want to come too?’

Now, I know that a school yard bullies actions and these terrorists actions are not very similar at all but it is the easiest comparison that I can make. It was not easy to pray for my bully or to forgive him for the constant torment… but I did it anyway. These evil people that try to do us harm, are not really that different to the bully except that they use weapons that can take life and cause serious injuries instead of words. Their intent is much the same, to cause pain.

I also want to point out that forgiving them is not the same as saying that we accept what they are doing. Their actions still need repercussions, a punishment of some kind. And it doesn’t mean we just stand there and keep taking the same kind of abuse. There were times that I thought, ‘I can’t deal with that bully right now’ so I would avoid him, if I could. In the case of ‘avoiding’ a terrorist, I don’t know what the answer is there. Tightened security? Watch lists for know activists/sympathisers? They seem to impact the innocent as much as the guilty. And I’m sure that if they know who the terrorists are, then they would be put in jail, or forced to leave the country at least.

That may not be much of a comfort, but whether they are found, caught, imprisoned or not, believe me when I say that God has a much greater punishment intended for these people than we can ever dish out – an eternity in Hell.