“How long, LORD, will the wicked be, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death” (Ps. 94:3, 6, 21).
These words of the Psalmist thousands of years ago find themselves on our lips today. On Friday, November 13th of 2015, an extremist group attacked the city of Paris, France. At least 129 lives were taken in the acts of terrorism, acts of blatant evil. This is only the most recent attack of many. A group decided that they had the right to hate and therefore a right to kill. A world shares the loss, bearing the colors of the flag’s blue, white, and red. A world weeps. A world cries out. A world seeks justice.
The book of Psalms suddenly becomes painfully familiar as the questions translate to 2015: How long, LORD, will the terrorists succeed in their plots? They behead innocent journalists. They bomb concertgoers, soccer fans, and café visitors. The extremists band together, condemning the innocent to death. This was the Psalmist’s world, and this is certainly our world.
In asking these initial questions to God, please also remember to ask the rest of the Psalmist’s questions: “Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches human beings lack knowledge?” (Ps. 94:9–10). The presence of evil in this world does not frighten or lessen the presence of your Creator God. He hears the plots and He hears the cries. He sees the suicide vests and He sees the bodies killed. Yet even in these times of ruthless terrorism, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and the Creator of the ends of the earth (Isa. 40:28). His Sovereignty is not jeopardized by man’s decisions, so remember that your King was just as good Friday night as He was Thursday night, just as good today as He will be tomorrow (Heb. 13:8).
When you watch the news now or read the security alerts for things to come, set your eyes on your King, not on this world, because only One reigns in supremacy: “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). The Lord your God, your Reigning Victor has firmly established His undefeatable kingdom in Heaven, a kingdom forever in control of earthly plans. Your Savior Jesus Christ is not pacing His golden streets in worry or panic. He is seated “at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12; Rom. 8:34). Heaven is His eternal throne and the earth is His footstool (Isa. 66:1). These murderous people are no threat to God, so as His child, His heir, His citizen, His bride, know that they are no threat to you (Isaiah 54: 5, 17).
While, yes, we deeply grieve with France, we even more fiercely stand in the victory of Christ (1 Cor. 5:57). While, yes, we cry out with questions to God, we even more claim the psalmist’s final resolve: “The LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them” (Ps. 94:22-23).
When events like this happen, believers have two options. We can respond in fear or we can respond in faith, trusting Him to continue to use us to proclaim His gospel and advance His kingdom. Therefore, press on with the work to which you are called, to know Him and to make Him known, for He is present, He is active, and He is good. Remember the words of Paul the Apostle who proclaimed, “My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).