In the past 2 weeks our beloved city has experienced 5 bombs that have taken 2 lives and injured 5+ others. The locations of the explosions have been in different parts of the city – all residential except for the latest one that went off while in transit at the FedEx facility. Two of the bombs were set in lower-income neighborhoods while the most recent explosion occurred in a middle-class neighborhood in Southwest Austin. There has been speculation as to whether they are coordinated and targeted – a hate crime or something else – but that is still unclear.
This leaves residents in a difficult and precarious position. We don’t know what to expect. At this point it seems like a bomb can be placed in any neighborhood in Austin, at any time, leaving no one feeling safe and many experiencing fear and anxiety like never before. No one is immune to this it seems. Personally, with each incident I have found myself having to process new layers of fear. It has caused me to ask questions and imagine scenarios I never would have thought I would be capable of until now. It has led me to ask what can I do? I can try to ignore it and push the reality aside and go on with my day like any others but I know that is not helpful.
Here are a few suggestions for responding to this situation biblically:
- Be sober minded (1 Peter 5:8-9). Be watchful and cautious. Keep your eyes open for suspicious behavior and packages. Follow the advice of the authorities and experts who are working on the case.
- Be prayerful. Pray for God to have mercy on the injured and families who have lost loved ones and ask God to bring justice swiftly. Pray specifically that the perpetrator would be caught or would turn themselves into authorities. Pray as a child crying out to a Father for help and deliverance (Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”) and pray with the courage of Psalm 103:6, which tells us “The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.”
- Be faithful. When evil strikes so close to home we are reminded of the reality of suffering and that we are finite and mortal. It’s in these moments that we can turn to God and rest in the reality of His sovereign and infinite goodness. We can trust in a Heavenly Father who cares for us and our city and He knows exactly what is taking place in our neighborhoods. He is the One who is sovereign and the One who redeems. We can say with David, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). While we don’t understand why this is happening we can know that He does and He will bring justice. Knowing He is with us means we don’t have to be overwhelmed by evil. Further, we don’t have to fear an unknown future evil that may come to our household or someone we know. Because of the gospel we can be full of faith in even there is great reason to fear.
- Be a light (Matthew 5:14–16). This is a great opportunity to encourage others with the hope that we have in Christ and to be an example of seeking mercy and justice. We don’t have to stay holed up inside our homes protecting ourselves and our lives. We can share the life we have in Christ with those around us and seek to love our city and make it the great place to live that it is. We can use our time and energy to do good in our city and show whoever is perpetuating this evil that God’s light cannot be extinguished.