I wake up Saturday morning to the news. Paris has been the target of a coordinated terrorist attack. Paris is certainly not the first and already not the last, but like so many of my students at Black Forest Academy, this to me was not just something to read about in the news.
This feels close and personal. This is the city and country I called home for most of my childhood. Both of my sisters were born there. This is a country that is currently only a 20-minute drive from my apartment. Several of my students commute daily from France. This is a country and people that hold a huge part of my heart.
On Sunday morning, I wake and feel compelled to drive to a nearby French city to attend church. Through a series of events, I end up at a Catholic cathedral in Colmar. It is named for Saint Martin and built in the mid to late 13th century. Following the sounds of the ringing church bells, I am able to find the church through the maze of small streets. I pass monuments, statues and street signs that all serve to remind me that evil and suffering are not new, even in this beautiful, quiet town in the eastern part of France.
I am reminded of the evil and suffering in this world as I see a monument honoring those who died fighting in the French resistance during the Second World War. I am reminded as I read the plaque inside the church celebrating their deliverance from occupation. I am reminded of it as I cross the border into France and for the first time in years, there is a check point. Every car is being stopped. I am reminded as I find my way to the cathedral, only to find six to eight fully armed soldiers surrounding the church.
I am reminded of our hunger for hope and peace, as I see a cathedral packed on a Sunday morning for probably the first time in a long time. I am reminded as I see heads bowed and people quietly wiping away tears. I am reminded as I watch one young father who seems to be holding his little girl extra tightly. I imagine he wonders what kind of world she will grow up in.
One does not have to look far to be reminded of the evil that does exist in this world, and at times, it threatens to consume us. And yet, as we approach the Christmas season, I am reminded of some other important truths.
I am reminded of the beauty of the fellowship of believers as I listen to hundreds recite the Lord’s Prayer and Nicene Creed. Our words join us with Christian believers throughout the world and the centuries in affirming our faith in a good and merciful God.
I am reminded that when the darkness seems to be at its greatest, that is when the light shines brightest (Isaiah 9:2). I am reminded that our only hope is in the name of Jesus! I am reminded of our Father’s heart that breaks not just when terrorists attack but over every soul that is lost.
I am reminded that it was into this messy, sinful world that God sent his Son, Emmanuel, God with us! I am reminded that he is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and that he will reign forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Though it may feel at times that evil is winning, we know the end of the story, and we can rest in the knowledge that he is still on the throne.
In the meantime, however, our work here is not done.
Will you join me in praying for the world? Will you ask him for opportunities to share your faith? Will you pray for a spiritual awakening in Europe and around the globe? Will you pray for believers around the world who are persecuted simply for following him?
May he find us faithful.
This post originally appeared on Anna Key’s ministry blog, which you can find here.