It’s late Sunday night and my head and my heart hurt. The death toll rises from a double suicide bomb attack on a vibrant church in Peshawar Pakistan. Those of us with connections in the area are glued to news sources, trying to glean whatever we can from the pitiful western coverage of this event.
I wrote a friend earlier today – her children are in school in Kenya, and though they don’t live in Nairobi, I know this school and I know that they visit Nairobi and probably this shopping mall. I have not heard whether her children were there or not, but the likelihood of her not being affected by the siege on the mall is slim. Another friend whose daughter lives in Kenya posts that she is “safe” and I breathe for her.
At one time I would have wondered “Where is God in all of this?” I no longer wonder in the same way. Instead I scream for mercy to save us from ourselves. To save us from the awful horror that is human on human violence, so much worse than any ‘natural’ disaster. I cry out that God intervene in what St. Augustine describes as the “parasite” of evil.
The problem of evil has been a conundrum for theologians since time began – but when people are in pain, discussions on the problem of evil seriously lack the ability to give substantive comfort. Instead, what people need is empathy, prayers for courage and hope, prayers that they will feel the love and mercy of God in a tangible way. And when I think prayer is not enough – I go back to the words of my son Jonathan this summer: “Mom, when you think about it, prayer is the greatest expression of empathy we can possibly give.”
In April after the Marathon bombings I wrote a piece called In the Midst of Tragedy- A Call to Pray and I leave you with an excerpt from that piece:
“Five times a day a Call to Prayer rings out across the Muslim world. I am fully aware of the differences in truth claims between Christianity and Islam – yet five times a day for much of my life I am reminded to lift my heart in prayer. And the five times stretches to many times in between until I realize I am slowly learning that I can’t make it through this life without prayer; that the exhortation to ‘pray without ceasing’ is life-giving. That in the midst of senseless acts of violence, in the midst of tragedy, I am called to pray. Called to pray to a God who hears and loves, a God who is present in tragedy and accepts our “why’s”, a God who knows no national boundaries or citizenship, a God who took on our human pain and suffering when he ‘willingly endured the cross’……And so I pray the only words I know how: Lord have mercy. Hear our prayer. Free us from our pain.“
For more information on the church bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan I urge you to go to this post written by a blogging friend who lives in Peshawar: Peshawar church bombing a condensation of horror and loss.
From the article:
“This is a catastrophe for the Christian community of Pakistan,” my secretary Ashbel Taj said to me a few minutes ago. He had just returned from visiting the wounded at Lady Reading Hospital after today’s bombing at All Saints’ Church in the heart of the old city of Peshawar.
Despite having the largest trauma unit in the world, the hospital scene was chaotic, he said, as staff struggled to treat the 200 or more wounded. Information is still emerging, but numerous conversations with colleagues in Peshawar – I’m in the USA at the moment – indicate that 150 or more people were killed.
I’ve tried to reach Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, but he is fully occupied in visiting the wounded in hospital. He was on visitation at the parish in Bannu, in Waziristan, but rushed back upon news of the bombing. Read the rest of the article here!
- Peshawar church bombings spark protests across Pakistan (thenewstribe.com)
- Bomb in Pakistan church kills at least 40 – official – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)