Don’t Just #PrayForParis
It was just a Friday. The simple, celebrated, end of the week. “FriYAY.” A night for concerts, for first dates in quaint restaurants, for rowdy sporting events.
David and I spent ours at a basketball game—Mavericks vs. Lakers. But as we sat blissfully under florescent lights, cheering on our teams, the City of Light was mourning.
Because it wasn’t just a Friday. It was a day of violence, of gun shots and bombs. Blood and tears. A terrible night that will go down in history forever.
What is the right thing to say in the eerie, darkness after a terrorist attack? How do you respond to news like Paris? To a monster like ISIS?
On Friday night I went through a range of emotions. I was heartbroken for the people of France. I was angry at the senseless violence. I was confused and a little afraid.
But most of all, I felt guilty.
I felt guilty because I was sitting safely in an arena, drinking an overpriced beer, and giggling as I watched someone propose to his girlfriend on the kiss cam. All the while, halfway across the world people were wailing as 129 lifeless bodies were being tended too. Hundreds sat bloody, wounded, and shaking with fear.
Oh, how I wanted to do something!
I wanted to stand in solidarity with our hurting brothers and sisters in France. I wanted to let them know they are loved and that my heart is breaking with them. So, I spent quite a bit of time taking artsy photos of a coffee mug from Anthropologie with a painting of the Eiffel Tower on it. I drafted a heartfelt Instagram post and prepared to add the French flag filter to my Facebook photo.
It’s sounds dumb when I type it out like that, but my intentions were earnest. Just like a million others who have hash-tagged #PrayforParis.
The whole earth is groaning in pain after the horror of Friday, and, honestly, the response has been beautiful. I love watching as the entire world rose to stand beside Paris. Cities across the globe glittered with the colors of the French flag. Football games and Justin Bieber concerts began with moments of silence.
But is it enough? Lit up buildings and hashtags are sweet, but I believe our response must be radical.
Please, don’t #PrayForParis. Pray for Paris.
As followers of Christ, we must run with abandon to the throne of God. We must push everything out of the way so that we can get alone and on our knees. So that we can pray fervently, ferociously for Paris and Beirut and Syria and our neighbors and this entire messed up world.
Before posting and hash-tagging and filtering, let us pause and pray. Really pray—with real, genuine whispers and fumbling words, with bowed heads and maybe even tears. Let us pray alone in the quiet and together in little circles with hands held tight. Let us press hard into God – the One who said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For, I have over come the world.” John 16:33
Really, praying for Paris (and for this world) requires that we cultivate a practice of retreating daily. We must vehemently protect our time in the secret place, returning regularly at the feet of Christ—not just on days like Friday.
Slowly, I’m learning that it is only when we spend time habitually with The Overcomer, that we learn how to appropriately respond to things like Paris—to the unexplainable horrors that happen daily in this broken world.
Love. Big, ferocious acts of love. That’s the best kind of response. (Romans 12:17-21)
I don’t know exactly what ferocious love looks like for you. I don’t know how our acts of brave love will impact those in Paris or Syria or Beirut or members of ISIS. What I do know it this — if you meet with Him in secret, the One Who Has Overcome The World will show us.
One of my all time favorite quotes is from Greg Saunders’ 2013 Syracuse graduation speech:
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”
Friends, as Christ-followers, I hope we do not respond to the recent attacks sensibly.
Let us not #PrayForParis. Let us wholeheartedly, unreservedly pray for Paris! Then, let us get up off our knees and recklessly love others—our neighbors here and those hurting across the oceans.
“And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5