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When Terror Strikes

Where Is God?

by Victor Kubik

In Paris and San Bernardino, people were going about their everyday lives. Little did they know that within a matter of minutes, dozens would be killed or maimed in vicious terrorist attacks. What do we need to learn from these horrific events?

Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters/Newscom
As the events of Paris show, we live in deeply troubling times, and they will not just get better on their own.

My heart goes out to the families of the 130 people ISIS terrorists massacred in Paris Nov.13. They attacked unsuspecting civilians in one of the swankiest districts in Paris. Most of the victims were in a concert at the Le BataclanCafe -- one of Paris' most legendaryclubs.Others were enjoying a peaceful dinner at several restaurants when horror suddenly struck.

Less than three weeks later a husband-and-wife terrorist team targeted a local government training event and holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 and injuring 22.

The terrorists achieved their goal of horrifying the local population and the world. The media attention they received is certain to inspire others to continue such attacks on "infidels" in the West. What happened in Paris and San Bernardino could happen in any Western city at any time.

The French vowed a "merciless response" and immediately began airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in easternSyria. U.S. President Barack Obama pledged further efforts to defeat the Islamic State. But even if successful, will that bring lasting peace? Is more war only treating the symptoms of a complicated state of affairs in which the world finds itself?

Pope Francis called the Paris massacre part of a "piecemeal Third World War." King Abdullah of Jordan made a similar reference to World War III. When terror strikes, world reaction varies from outrage to grief, horror and revenge -- even to "Where is God in allthis?"

Where was -- or is -- God in all of this? That's a very good question and one we should focus on most. Most people ignoreGod and do as they please -- until a tragedy strikes, and then they think about and blame God forwhat's happened.

Western nations have drifted farther and farther from seeing the existence andsovereignty ofGod.

That's ultimately why we are seeing these horrorsand will continue to see them. As we settle from the shock we must understand the underlying causes that few want to talk about,much less do anything about.

A world unprepared

Terror attacks such as these have brought the convoluted Mideastviolence closer to home, and we wonder how safe we are.Where will the next promised strike be? How can we besafe?

Syria is a nation that has exploded,spewing its poison across the whole world. More than 200,000 have died in a complex civil war with strange alliances that involve the most powerfulnations of the world. Refugees are pouring out by the hundreds of thousands, with terrorists among them.

The world is unprepared for what's happening in the worst way possible -- having turned from the ultimate source of security.

At one time America's presidents confidently and reverently sought God's guidance. President Dwight Eisenhower began his 1953 inaugural address with an open prayer to God. He beseeched the Almighty to "give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby … so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory."

President Ronald Reagan took the words of 2 Chronicles7:14 as the theme for both of his inaugurals.That verse poignantly reads: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek myface, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal theirland"(King James Version).

Instead, among its many other sins, America has thrown God and prayer out of its schools, killed more than 50 millionchildren through abortion and condoned unnatural marriages and lifestylescondemned by the Bible.

What is the outcome -- the consequence -- for nations embracing such deeply ungodly actions? "Your life will constantly hang in the balance. You will live night and day in fear, unsureif you will survive" (Deuteronomy 28:66 , New LivingTranslation).

A day of reckoning is swiftly coming on this world. Unless people take action -- individually and collectively -- terrible things are in store. Paris, 9/11 and San Bernardino are but the beginningofsorrows.

The just shall live byfaith

The ancient prophet Habakkuk pleaded with God to heal a sick nation. Prophets were sent to talk sense to the nation, but the people would not listen -- as it is today. God's response to him was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear.

Because of Judah's lifestyle and godlessness, God foretold that the nation hadto go through trauma induced by violent neighboring nations. These ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and the nation went into captivity. But Habakkuk stated that in the midst of national calamity, survival for the just wasby faith: "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4 ).

Theapostle Paul quotes this passage three times in his writings, underscoring that Christians live and surviveby deep and abiding trust in God.

Jesus Himself tells us about the chaotic events preceding the end of the present age: "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption drawsnear" (Luke 21:28 ). What goodnews!

God offers us all a solution: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19 ). You and I can choose what we want to do and what course of action we will take. But we cannot choose to escape the consequences of ourchoices!

The time isnow!

The time is now for you personally to wake up to what is happening and what hasbeen prophesied to come. The time is now to come to repentance before the God of the universe, who is offering you salvation -- in your life now and for all eternity!

As the events of Paris and San Bernardino show, we live in deeply troubling times, and they will not just get better on their own. Our mission here at Beyond Today is to strongly preach a message of repentance, telling the world to turn from its sinful way of life, which is bringing all these calamities.

God promises security and safety for those who follow Him. As He tells us in Psalms 34:8 (New International Version), "Blessed is the one who takesrefuge in him."

©1995-2020 United Church of God, an International Association

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