“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”—Romans 15:13 (NIV).
A ringing phone after midnight jolted me from a deep sleep. Expecting to hear one of my sons on the other end, I jumped into action when I heard the recorded voice telling me to take cover immediately. At the same time, I heard the tornado sirens blaring. Grabbing my glasses, my dog and my bed comforter, I headed for the safest place in my house—a long hallway.
My heart raced as adrenaline kicked into survival mode. Lying in the hallway, I could hear the strong wind and blaring sirens as my dog and I huddled under the comforter. For what seemed like an eternity, I lay there praying. After the sirens and wind ceased, I headed back to bed, but could not sleep. Turning on the television, I listened for updates as the storm moved across northeastern Oklahoma. Communication with the outside world via Facebook and texting on my cell phone kept me connected with friends and family who were still in the path of the storm.
Storms of all kinds can keep us from finding peace in a shaky world. Two recent national incidents not only destroyed lives but also rattled our peace. With the Boston Marathon bombing and the explosion of a Texas fertilizer plant, people across the nation have heavy hearts.
It’s hard to comprehend the hideous act in Boston but within hours of the bombing, Internet chatter claimed that a “dark-skinned male” was in custody. The 22-year-old Saudi Arabian student was recovering from the blasts in a Boston hospital while police raided his apartment. Other media followed, raising the alarm and suspicions that the perpetrators were “brown-skinned.”
Premature reports like these led to incidences of insults and beatings heaped on “dark-skinned” foreigners who had no connection to the event. A Palestinian woman in Boston was assaulted by a man who said, “You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions!”
The rush for indictment and revenge is not the answer, nor does it bring peace in a world so desperate for understanding. For some, a prayer vigil or service was a way to gather with others to spiritually support the bombing victims, the city of Boston, and even pray for the perpetrators. For others, it was a way to seek answers—or peace, in the face of unsettling evil.
America has suffered much at the hands of both foreign and domestic terrorists. We have become suspicious and fearful. Being fearful, however, robs us of our peace, a peace only found when we are grounded in our faith through spiritual practices like reading scripture, prayer and being part of a faith family. Our faith should lead us to reach out to the hurting, to the disenfranchised, to the lost, to the poor.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”