“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.”
(Psalm 36:5-6, NLT)
It is unavoidable to talk about. This past weekend in Northern Nigeria has been filled with terror, and grief, and injustice.
On Sunday, two little girls– around 7 years old— were strapped to explosives, and walked into a busy market in the state of Borno, Nigeria (source). Detonating their explosives, they killed one other person, and injured 18 people.
“They got out of a rickshaw and walked right in front of me without showing the slightest sign of emotion,” one soldier told the Daily Mail (source). Not responding to anything he said, the girls walked into the crowd, straight-faced, before blowing up the explosives put upon their young frames.
These little girls were not the only bombers. On Friday, December 9th, two women walked into a market in the city of Madagali, Nigeria. Walking to the opposite sides of the crowded market, they also killed themselves– blowing themselves up while killing 45 people, and injuring 33 (source).
There is no way to ignore it; the terror, the grief, and the injustice is real to all those who have been affected by such bombings. It is real to everyone who ever witnessed the outrageous lack of reaction from the Nigerian government to such violence (which has only changed within the past year). While it is true that the Nigerian military has undergone noticeable change, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is claiming that they are working “at slamming the final nail in the coffin of Boko Haram,” nothing changes the heartbreaking reality, that many families are still slamming nails into the coffins of their loved ones, 7 years into the insurgency.
Now, days later, one cannot imagine the darkness, the hopelessness, and the loneliness that shrouds those affected. In a place such as this, the concept that God Loves them seems farthest from the Truth.
It is unavoidable, to face these things. But, even in the darkness, the Truth still rings true.
That there is a God whose Love goes beyond the pain. A God, who saw the love-sick world that He created, and Loved it so much, that He decided to step into the pain (John 3:16; Psalm 34:18).
A God who, in His Righteousness, did not wink at sin, or pretend it never happened. Someone had to pay. Yet, He decided to be faithful to a faithless mankind: to stretch His arms out, bearing the wrath that mankind deserved– Just as He promised, through His prophets long ago (Luke 24:25-27).
In His Perfect Justice, and unfailing, pain-facing Love, He bore the sin. He bore the shame. So that no one– no one— who believes in Him, would ever have to live a life, both here, and in eternity, without Him (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:3-4; John 17:3).
To prove that His Love is limitless– that it indeed is “as vast as the heavens“– He came down from Heaven, to Earth, breaking every wall that kept Him from having a relationship with those who trusted Him, in faith (Matthew 27:51).
Looking to the Light
So, knowing all of this about our Savior, let those in darkness hold on to His Promises:
That Psalm 34 is not empty, but a sure Truth to stand upon.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
In the midst of grief, He is Righteous. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)
In the midst of injustice, His Justice is as deep as the sea, and vengeance is His. (Romans 12:19)
And in the midst of terror, His Love calms all fears. (Psalm 34:4)
Over the past weekend, many in Northern Nigeria have been thrust into the dark, overwhelming night of terror and grief– terror and a grief that seems to have no end in sight. But, even here, Jesus’ Justice, Love, and Peace will not fail. May He make Psalm 36 real in the hearts and minds of those hurting, during this time; because Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday and today and forever (Hebrew 13:8).
This post is dedicated to Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor that has been arrested, in Turkey, for “membership in an armed terrorist organization”– a crime He has not committed. In the islamic Turkish government, Christians are being imprisoned on serious, yet false, charges.
Imprisoned for his faith, Pastor Brunson needs our prayers, and support, more than ever.
Please pray over Pastor Brunson, and sign the ACLJ petition for his release, at www.beheardproject.com/andrew.
Do you know Jesus?
“…to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:77-79, NIV)
Starting with Adam and Eve’s fatal choice to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil, mankind was separated from the Creator of Life and Light– and, in their sin, was made to live in a broken, dark world.
Full of death, chaos, and confusion, this broken and fragmented world, no matter the efforts mankind made, remained in darkness. But God saw this darkness. In fact, He had a plan to overcome the darkness, far before the fall ever happened (Revelation 13:8).
That plan was the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son. God in human flesh, Jesus Christ was born.
As Isaiah 53:2 foretold, “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Unlike the popular view of Jesus at Christmastime, Jesus was not a glowing, angelic being at His birth.
Instead, He was born into a messy, poor manger. Knowing what it is like to be rejected, pushed away, alone– and, ultimately, murdered by the people whom He Loved enough to save– Christ knows, simultaneously, what it is to live in a broken world, and to be the only Savior of it.
Jesus Christ is God, He is Alive, and He knows exactly what you are going through. Learn more about Him, His mission, and His Love for you, here.
Please pray for…
– Those men, women, and children affected by the two suicide bombings that occurred on the 9th and the 11th of December. That those grieving would find Christ in their pain.
– That the local, Northern-Nigerian church would assist in comforting, praying for, and providing for the physical needs of those affected by the bombings. That Christ would use them mightily to bring others to Him, and to hope.
– For the Nigerian military. Recently, another Lieutenant Colonel was killed by Boko Haram members; please pray that, at a time like this, soldiers would seek Christ for safety, refuge, and courage to protect civilians.
– For those wounded by the bombings, that they would seek Jesus for healing, and that they would recover quickly.
– Those currently living in the regions that were bombed; that they would not fear, but would come to Christ in their desperation, and find Mercy in His arms, as He becomes their Lord and Savior.
– For those being held captive by Boko Haram, and for the families of those being held captive. That those who know Christ would be bold in witnessing to others, and that they would be freed, very soon.
– The little boys, girls, men, and women who have been coerced into being suicide bombers/brainwashed into believing the lies of the enemy. That they would hear the Gospel and know Christ, even in the states they are in; that Christ would intervene in future attacks.
During this Christmas season, please keep those affected first-hand by terrorism and islamic jihad in your prayers: Those in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Benin, Syria, and other countries in the middle east, as well as the USA, which has also seen terrorist attacks recently. Thank you!