The night of horror at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris contained many tragic stories. The senseless killing seemed to go on and on. A crowd of mostly twenty-somethings were easy targets for the heartless attackers who aimed carefully or tossed grenades among those huddled on the floor trying to escape the carnage. One man realized that the attention of the murderers was drawn to cell phones ringing. The ghostly light of a phone provided another target. The man frantically shut his phone down and probably saved his life.
Another man stood at the back of the crowd while the American band Eagles of Death Metal played. He began to move through the press as he heard his favorite song. He was at the edge of the stage when the gunfire began. He was able to escape.
The survivor stories bring only a small measure of comfort in the face of such grief and loss. As the world now struggles with how to face this newest plague of evil, individual lives are having to cope with shattered dreams and devastating brokenness.
In this season of Thanksgiving, it will be incredible difficult for people in many circumstances to feel grateful. They may be overwhelmed by the crushing load of disappointment, discouragement, and defeat. They may have been recipients of bad news – relationships rocked, health imperiled, finances depleted. It would be easy to fall into the perspective of the writer of Ecclesiastes at the first of his essay on life: “What’s the use? Everything is meaningless.”
Matthew recorded a moment in the ministry of Jesus when He surveyed the crowd, saw and felt their pain: “He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36). Two chapters later, Matthew wrote down the words of a beckoning Savior: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and worn out, and I will give you rest.” (11:28)
In the small things or the big ones, do we have something for which we can be grateful?
From Psalm 3 and the powerful song based on its text:
“But Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice and He heard my out of His holy hill.
I laid down and slept and awaked,
For the Lord sustained, for He sustained me.”
Oh, yes, Lord. Hold us in the palm of Your hand. Lift up our heads!