Lately, my son has been wanting to play "bad guys." Meaning, he is the bad guy. I find myself hoping other people don't hear him talking about wanting to be the "bad guy," because, as Christ followers, we are supposed to be the "good guys." I want him to be the "good guy."
This morning, after news of the attacks in Paris, I watched my children eat their breakfast, sing their songs and make their goofy faces. My three-year-old son has no idea that people were slaughtered last night. My one-year-old daughter does not worry about her security or the state of the world. They eat, they sleep, they play. What kind of people slaughter the innocent? I think.
The bad guys do.
But my hunch is that the mothers of the killers in last night's massacre did not want their children to be the "bad guys" any more than I want my son to be.
I'm guessing many of the militants had children of their own back home eating their breakfasts, singing their songs and making their goofy faces while their fathers were away. What do their mothers tell them when they hear the news that their husbands and fathers are not returning? That they were away being the "bad guys"?
Or do they truly believe that they are the "good guys"?
Truthfully, I have tried to hide from news about the evil in the world because it makes me feel fearful, powerless and guilty because I--at the moment--am happy and secure. I feel like there is nothing I can to do to stop the imminent tsunami of evil, so I try to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist.
And the news is something that I can effectually avoid, thanks to modern technology. It is easy to shield myself from anything that may make me feel uncomfortable. There are plenty of phone apps which allow you to select a tame version of the news that will not cause you to ponder the problems of the world. I don't listen to the radio anymore, because I can listen to Pandora, and I don't have interruptions of news during T.V. shows because we only watch Netflix. So any additional news that comes to me is now via Facebook, which is more likely the latest mommy blog article or food recipe than an article about the atrocities of the world.
We Americans like being isolated. We don't actually want to know what is happening across the ocean because it makes us feel powerless. So we turn off the news and make it go away.
But then the bad guys strike again and we can't escape into our holes.
So what do we do?
Though changing our Facebook profile picture to the colors of the French flag, tweeting, instagramming and posting pictures of the Eiffel tower with quotes and Scripture verses on social media are all ways we can show solidarity with the "good guys," we all know the passion will dissolve within days and weeks. We will crawl back into our safe holes, squeeze our children close and forget.
But the bad guys are out there, believing that what they are doing is good.
Personally, I want to try to stop hiding and force myself to see. War, famine, refugees, human trafficking, drug addiction, domestic violence, abuse, earthquakes, hurricanes and senseless violence are all too much for me to bear, so I will listen, I will learn and I will look until the pain and suffering begins to exceed what I can handle.
And then, in prayer, I will pour the evil back out to Someone who can hold it all without being overcome by the tsunami. Someone who, according to the Sunday school song, in fact, holds the whole world in His hands. My Jesus-following friends in Uganda called this type of pouring out of burdens and needs to God shundering. They would pace the floor all night, waving their hands and speaking to God about all that was on their hearts.
In my own quieter western ways, I will intentionally read the news, write down some world needs in my journal and then speak aloud to God for 15 minutes in the morning and, like Abraham, beg God to have mercy for the sake of a few righteous in the land.
And I will pray for the bad guys.
And I will pray for the children of the bad guys.
And I will pray for the mothers of the bad guys.
Because right now, from this side of the ocean, that is all that I know to do.
We pray for Paris and beg for your intervention in the world.
We pray against the plague of fear, which can spread like an infectious disease and instead pray for courage and peace.
We praise you for being a God who is not surprised by evil schemes and trust that you will bring all evil to justice in the end.
We pray that our world leaders would have wisdom as they make decisions that will affect many in the world in the days to come.
In Jesus' name.
Photo: "GeorgesGaren embrasement tour Eiffel" by Georges Garen. Licensed under PublicDomain via Wikimedia Commons -