Though this event did not occur in Nigeria, Christ led me to write about it. The story needs to be told; these words need to be heard.
On December 16th, 2014, seven men from the Taliban attacked a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 141 people– 132 of them children and adolescents.
Bullets were sprayed indiscriminately, covering the classrooms where children had come to simply learn.
How can one even begin to describe the shock, the outrage, the horror of it all?
Today, as the Pakistani government tries to pick up the pieces of this heartbreaking tragedy, hundreds of parents are putting their young loved ones in caskets, experiencing pain they never thought they’d have to experience: the pain of outliving their own children.
What can one do in the face of such a horrible event?
In John 11, Jesus learns of the sickness and imminent death of His friend and follower, Lazarus. The story is profound.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’
When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’
“…On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
“…When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.
Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’
“…Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.
‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’
Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”
(John 11:1-4; 17-23; 33-36; 38-44, NIV)
In this passage of scripture, Jesus, the God of the Universe, ended up resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. If Lazarus was to be resurrected, why, then, does Christ weep? He wept because He felt the pain of those who loved Lazarus, as well as the profound weight of death that sin in this world causes. Jesus sought to comfort them and show solidarity with them, loving Lazarus just as much as they did.
When writing about the tragedy in Pakistan, there is nothing one can write that will stop the tears from flowing.
There is nothing to write that can ease the pain of those mourning for their loved ones.
Right now, all one can do is cry with them, pointing them to the One “who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
It can be all too easy to see these people as just a headline in a news story– but Christ sees them for who they truly are. He sees every tear, feels every bullet wound, and will be with them every step of the painful path ahead of them. As relayed in Matthew 5, these men and women can turn to Christ and be truly comforted in their grief.
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4, NIV)
The people of Pakistan need to know the nearness of Christ in these circumstances. They need to know of His willingness to take them under His wing, providing rest for their aching souls.
These people need to know they are not alone in their grief and sorrow. They need to know that they matter, that this world hears them; that it, too, feels the pain of having to put 132 of it’s precious young ones in the ground.
As stated in Romans 12, sometimes, all we can do is grieve with them, feeling the enormous hurt of such a tragedy in our own hearts as well.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
(Romans 12:15, NIV)
It is only in this place of grief that we can look to Christ to comfort us, as He promises to do in Matthew 5:4.
So today, we remember.
Today, we grieve.
Today, we stand in solidarity with our fellow hurting human beings.
Today, we pray.
Pray that these precious men and women would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, as the majority of them are muslims.
Pray that God, being the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) would comfort these people as they come to know Him.
Pray that those who do know Christ would share Him with the other hurting people in their lives, and that the Holy Spirit would move powerfully in their situations to bring a vast number of them to Christ, the true source of all comfort.
Pray for every difficult step ahead of these people, that the Lord would walk with them through it, providing His grace and mercy as their strength, daily.
Please also pray for a young boy by the name of Dawood; he didn’t go to school the day of the shootout, saving him from almost certain death. The Lord is working in Dawood’s life; pray He’d come to know Christ as His Lord and Savior.
Do you know Christ, the God of all Comfort, as Your Lord and Savior? Do you know where you’re going to spend eternity?
You may feel comforted now, but do you know the One who can comfort you in your deepest distress?
Do you want to?
If so, pray this simple prayer with me, or pray in your own words:
Dear Jesus, I believe that you are God-in-Man, born of a virgin named Mary, who died for the sins of the whole world. I have sinned against you; I deserve hell, but I pray you’d come into my heart and save me, so that I may go to heaven. Please forgive me for all my sin, and come into my heart so that I can be empowered by you to live a Holy life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you’ve prayed that prayer with me, I am glad to say that we will see each other in heaven! Pray that others around you would come to know Christ as well.
Christ walked with people in who were in pain and anguish, healing them in their brokenness. Because of this, we walk with them too.