On March 16th, an article was written concerning two things that have been very raw in global news: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and the kidnap of both the Chibok schoolgirls and the Dapchi school girls, among many others.
The article compared the school violence that has happened in America to the school violence exhibited by Boko Haram.1
One comparison was striking: For the Chibok and Dapchi girls—among so many others—the terror was from the “outside,” an ideology and a people thoroughly against the governments of Northern Nigeria and other nations. In the School shooting in Florida, it was a young man—a man “within society”—that shot and killed 17 people, including students and school staff.
In both cases, people were lured by satan and spurred on by an evil world to commit these heinous and heartbreaking acts. People who hated their society, and thought little to nothing about the precious lives of the people they have kidnapped and killed.
In so little words, there is both terror within, and terror outside.
Fighting the Battles
In both situations, the watching world has vowed this vow: “We won’t forget.”2 Many have meant this, and many have not—but if you might be a person who has forgotten these people, this post is not to shame or push you into some sort of agenda. Actually, I have to be honest: I am a person who forgets these things. I am a person who does not always remember to pray for these precious people; and at times, I am completely ignorant to the pain others are feeling all around me.
This idea of both terror within, and terror outside, reminds me of Numbers 22-25, where a sorcerer/man of divination named Balaam is paid by the king of an enemy of Israel—King Balak of Moab—to curse the wandering Israelites3. It is the story of the talking donkey, which many people have heard of (especially if you have grown up in the church).
After being stopped by the angel of the LORD, God told Balaam to only say what God wanted him to say (Numbers 22:35), and Balaam refused just to say whatever he wanted (Numbers 22:38). Guess what happened? No matter how King Balak pressured Balaam,
King Balak getting angry with Balaam for refusing to curse Israel.
Balaam could only say what God wanted him to: all blessings, and no curses, toward Israel (Numbers 23-24). Just like that, any terror and desolation that could occur from the outside of Israel through Balaam’s curses became inert; God was protecting His People.
But what Balaam couldn’t achieve through cursing Israel by divination, he helped achieve through the Israelite’s own wrongdoing. In Numbers 25, the Israelite men started sleeping with the local Moabite women around them; this debauchery led to the Israelite men worshipping the sexual, false gods and goddesses of Moab. The idolatry committed by Israel caused God to be angry; subsequently, a plague was sent to kill the Israelites. This terror, caused from within, ended up killing 24,000 people, and was only stopped when the “ringleaders” of this sin were killed.
What does this have to do with the violence in Northern Nigeria and Florida? I am not trying to compare the school shooting in Florida with what happened to the Israelites; absolutely NO VICTIM of the Florida shooting is in any way at fault for the choices of one person.
What I am saying is this: there is evil all around us—evil that is subtle, insidious, eating away at the life Christ has for us—both through attacks from the enemy, and from our own inward struggles with sin.
At the end of the day, this evil opposition comes at us from all sides, in a plethora of different ways.
Prayer: First Line of Defense
With these attacks going on around us— and with everything we thought we knew for sure being shaken—I want to ask you one question: what is the first thing you normally do when you are attacked, or when you see an attack happening?
Do you go to Facebook and social media, posting and tweeting? Do you put together a protest, writing on signs?
Do you simply turn away from it all, hoping that, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and it will somehow resolve itself on its own?
All of these things are understandable; I’ve done all three. But I want to encourage you all to do one thing first: Pray to Jesus about it.
You’ll notice that I did not say “prayer” vaguely. I did this for a reason: The God of the Bible—the Godhead, three-in-one– is the only God in control, and able to change anything at all.
I can hear the scoffs and retorts. “Jesus? What is Jesus going to do? Time for prayers have ended, Annalee. We need action. We need results, now.”
But, regarding any attack in this life, Ephesians 6:12 declares, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV).
And in terms of personal attacks happening in our everyday lives, God’s Word tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, NIV).
Honestly? I’m horrible at this whole “praying first” thing. Most of the time, I think that writing a blog post, or sending a tweet or even just a text instead is more productive than immediately going to the God of all Creation in prayer over these attacks. But, when one person goes in prayer to Christ, the One and only true God, about these things, more is done than anything we mere humans could ever do.
Praying to Jesus. This is the number one thing that will heal and protect, not only our broken children, but our broken world. So, may we protest. May we write blog and social media posts advocating for these precious people. May we be an active part of these people’s miracles.
But first, may we spend time with Jesus in prayer and worship. It is then that we will be strengthened and led to do all the beautiful things He has for us to do.
Do you know Jesus?
People today think that Christians are crazy for believing that a person can have a real, genuine, personal relationship with God. This is probably most evident in the words of Joy Behar recently, who publicly mocked Christians when she said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. …that’s called mental illness, if I’m not mistaken.”
But, no matter what the world thinks about it, Jesus Christ is risen and reigning—and He longs to have a personal, saving relationship with each and every person ever made, if only they will accept Him as Savior and God over their lives.
Jesus cares DEEPLY for you. He has spoken, in His Word, about what it takes to know Him. Read more about His Good News, here.
Please pray for (print out a prayer sheet here)…
- Joy Behar. This is random, but please pray that she would come to know Jesus even after her remarks on The View. Pray for the many, many people who agree with her sentiments.
- The Dapchi girls. Please pray that they would come home, soon.
- The Chibok girls. Pray that the 112 left in captivity would desire home, and would be able to come home. You can find a link to many of their names, here.
- Those involved in and affected by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Pray that these broken, hurt people would come to know Jesus.
Thank you for your prayers. these kids be protected by Christ through prayer, and Christ-led action.
2 The video featuring Anderson Cooper in this article: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-shooting-victims-school/index.html