On Easter Day in Lahore, Pakistan, the world witnessed another terrorist attack by a jihadist suicide bomber. In a New York Times article, “Blast at a Crowded Park in Lahore, Pakistan, Kills Dozens,” Salman Masood reported:
A suicide bomber set off a powerful blast close to a children’s swing set in a public park on Sunday evening in the eastern city of Lahore, killing at least 69 people and wounding around 300, rescue workers and officials said.
The blast occurred in a parking lot at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest parks in Lahore, said Haider Ashraf, a senior police official in the city. The bomb was detonated within several feet of the swings in a park crowded with families on Easter.
Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the blast. Its spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said in a statement that Christians were the target.
The sad news of recent events has weighed heavily on many people’s hearts. For Christians, it is a time—as anytime—to pray. For those more local to Lahore, Pakistan, it is an opportunity to love and help those people affected by this latest attack. Most of us are physically removed from the situation; but even being far away, we can pray, trust God, hope, and continue to be faithful to our local callings: work, family, church, and community.
In these situations, we need to remember two things: first, God works through people. If God is to help the people hurt in Pakistan, he will do so mainly through the people there who are able, willing, and ready to help. God will work through local authorities, families, friends, and the government both to aid the victims and find new ways to prevent such attacks.
Second, God answers the prayers of his people. Our praying—our actual word-speaking and request-making before God—is not a waste of time. Talking to God is a case in which talk is not cheap. God hears. God answers. God works. Prayer for others is an opportunity for God to work, even in our own lives. Through praying for people we have never known and may never know, God works in our hearts. God wants to move us to action to meet the needs in our local communities.
When we recognize that God works through people, we can begin to realize that maybe our best response to the tragic event that happened in Pakistan, after making our petitions to God, is to do our best to remain faithful to our local callings. We can trust that God uses our daily, ordinary work to help people.
Terrorism and tragedy happen much more frequently than we realize. On March 26, 2016, just a day before the Pakistan attack, Dan Ruetenik and Margaret Cheatham Williams released a video (on Times Video, www.nytimes.com) titled “Forgotten Victims of Terror.” This video reminds us that we will never hear about most terrorist attacks.
Still, God is at work. He is working through people, Christian and non-Christian alike. He is working in us when we pray, turning our hearts toward the needs all around us, moving us to action. After rising from our knees, after we have made our requests known to God, let us trust him to work in our local callings, even as we trust him to work in other parts of the world.
My prayer is that God would work in the lives of the people in Lahore, Pakistan. I pray that God would work for their well-being and for their salvation.
May the people in Lahore, Pakistan, come to know Christ and the mercy of God. May the families of the victims and the survivors trust in the merciful God to help them through this time. May they find hope in moments of fear. May God help them to recover from this terrible trauma. May God show himself to be faithful through the people whose hearts are moved to help. My prayer is also that God would work in the hearts of those of us who are far away from Lahore, Pakistan, to remain faithful to our local callings.