Last night I hung on live news reports about a truck driving into a Christmas market in Berlin and waited for my Berlin friends to mark themselves as “safe” on Facebook. Today, even with assurances of my friends’ well-being, I went grocery shopping but forgot to take my wallet with me. I studied but didn’t take much in. I read through the same email several times to make sure I was reading it correctly before replying because my mind was spinning.
I didn’t know any of the victims. I’ve only set foot in Berlin twice. One of my best friends lives there but is currently on crutches and unlikely to visit a Christmas market this year.
I would love to write a redemptive, moving post about this (my friend wrote a fantastic one here), but it’ll take several days for me just to figure out what I actually think and feel. Right now I’m just gasping for breath in a swirl of disconnected emotion.
And there isn’t just Berlin, which I feel actual connection with. How can I feel moved by strangers in Berlin when there is so much going on in other parts of the world- in Aleppo, Kinshasa?
2016 has been a strange year: Brexit, Trump, the increasing polarisation of politics, of ideologies, of people. Increasing intolerance and suspicion and refusal to even speak to those on “the other side”.
People are becoming increasingly dominated by fear, moving farther and farther from the Gospel value that perfect love drives out fear, moving farther and farther from the God who is love.
People cry out for answers, for justice. People cry out to government leaders, to the internet, to the world, to each other, to do something, to make it right somehow.
Yet we don’t cry out to the One who not only hears but answers. We don’t cry out to the one true Judge who has the clearest perspective and will one day have the final say.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying that He answers how we want or expect Him to! That would make Him like a vending machine, subject to us, or like a slot machine, subject to random chance.
I wrestle with the fact that some people died yesterday and others live.
I wrestle with the fact that other attacks have been thwarted but this one slipped through the net.
I wrestle with the fact that attacks like this one have been carried out in the name of God.
But I want to wrestle these things out with God, not without Him. I want to take my questions, my doubts, my fears to Him. Whether or not I receive the answers that I seek I choose to cling to the hope that His perfect love does drive out fear. Whether this happens in the eventual wrapping up of this portion of time in the day of judgement when He makes everything right or in the gradual, stumbling outworking of it in our hearts and into the people around us- I choose to trust Him.