Attack on Innocence
Photo: The crowd at Wednesday’s vigil at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester to commemorate the victims of the May 22 terrorist bombing. (Andrew Testa for The New York Times)
Children all over the world are in need of God’s protection now that they have become the most recent target in the war between Islamic terrorists and Western civilization. The horrific Manchester bomb attack followed a music concert with an audience full of preteen and teenaged girls — the innocent and vulnerable.
Several sources, including the bomber’s sister, claim the attack specifically targeted young girls. The motivation to kill children was retribution for the deaths of Muslim children at the hands of non-Muslim powers.
“During the past year, you’ve seen a notable increase in the incorporation of images of children killed in strikes targeting [the] Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria, especially,” says terror analyst Michael S. Smith II.
As Smith explains, photographs of sobbing mothers and distraught parents can become powerful tools to persuade would-be terrorists in the West to resort to violence. In addition to recruitment, groups like ISIS use these images to incite its supporters to act.
According to French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was an ISIS hostage for 10 months, the group is “heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism.. [and] drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.”
Images in social or traditional media that portray fear and division, and particularly violence against children, spur extremists toward retaliatory attacks such as the Manchester bombing. This in turn feeds the inflammatory cycle: creating more terror and, ultimately, leading to further loss of innocent lives.
Our response must be to end this cycle of fear and violence, and to protect the innocent with God’s Word.
Let’s pray Psalm 56:1-11:
1 Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. 2 My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Father, enemies have set their evil intent on our children. Let this evil act propel all Your children to pray for Your shelter, security and protection for the most innocent among us. We look to You, Abba, in times of trouble and we trust in Your safekeeping.
4 In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? We praise Your righteousness, sovereign God. All Your plans are good, and although darkness seems to cover this event, we know You will use it to further Your plan and work Your perfect will for our world. We fear only You, God, not any man.
5 All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. 6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life. This attack was carefully planned by individuals who worked together to create havoc and destroy. They seek to attack our dear children. Father God, we ask that You thwart their evil plan to spread hatred and stir people against each other.
7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down. Lord of our righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu, we ask that all those involved, and only those involved, be detained to prevent future attacks. May none who had a part in creating this deadly deed elude law enforcement officials.
8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? Let the families of bombing victims turn to You, Almighty God, for their comfort and the peace that surpasses all understanding. As Jesus, a man of sorrows, explained, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise — 11 in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? Lord, You are our provider and healer, our shepherd. Lord, we ask that You banish fear in the hearts of Your people. Your Words tell us to fear You, to call on You in times of trouble and to rest in Your protection. We believe your Word and praise You as a keeper of promises.