Waking up this morning felt the same as any other day. The sun is finally starting to shine in Minnesota, and so it slipped through the slats of my bedroom blinds as I opened my eyes. I got out of bed, took a shower, dressed, and then sat down for breakfast. While eating, I pulled up the news on my phone and read the first headline, “Breaking – at least 28 dead, hundreds injured in Brussels terror attacks”. As what I was reading sunk in, my heart broke. The seemingly monotonous day changed.
After processing through the attacks that happened in Paris last year, I was surprised to find that not everyone in my circle of friends was as profoundly moved as I was. Their reasoning for not being shaken was because it happened overseas. Of course they cared, but they didn’t feel it as deeply as I did. Terrorism is not just an attack on a place, but an attack on mankind, and the unspoken community that we all share. That’s why it hits so close to home for me.
Our minds were built to problem solve. We are subconsciously doing it all of the time. If a car is speeding by you as you’re trying to cross the street, you jump back on the sidewalk, and the problem is solved. If you are feeling unwell, you go to the doctor for medication. While conversing, you listen to what the other is saying, process, and then respond based on the signals that they are putting out. It is simple, and therefore comforting. When I hear about things like the act of terrorism on Brussels, my mind hits a road block. I freeze up and don’t know how to process. What fills that space is fear. There is no sane reasoning why terrorists do what they do, and so there isn’t a clear cut path for solving the problem. In fear, I throw my hands in the air and shout “How could this happen again? How can we stop this?”
What comes to me after the moments of fear and frustration is the thought that we can’t get stuck in trying to figure it out. Truthfully, we could get stuck there forever. Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”. That is why we can’t necessarily approach these situations with only rationalism. It plays a part in it, but we have to focus not on the “how”, but let the “why” be our driving force.
The fear that we all initially feel is what the terrorists count on. It might even be what feeds their insane pursuit. But what they don’t realize, and what they don’t count on is that fear is not the most powerful motivator. The most powerful motivator is hope. We find hope when we ask the question “why” rather than “how”, and that is where I force myself to focus. The details are too hard otherwise. Hope may not be seen in the tangible details of a horrific scenario, because what we see with our eyes can sometimes overpower what we feel with our hearts. You won’t find your “why” in the photos of the burning Brussels airport. You won’t find it in the videos of the people running and screaming. It will not be found in the photos of the wounded. It will be found in all of our hearts, and that’s something that terrorists can never take.
When you look past the tangible details, hope weaves its way around from person to person, slowly but surely pulling everyone together. You find hope in the stories of the victims who helped each other during the tragedy. You find it in a first responder providing medical cares to those who were hurt. You even find it in the thousands of Instagram photos that go up in support of the victims. Of course we don’t want terrible things to happen, but we are stronger because of them. Where once we were all separate, we are now all together.
The terrorists who committed this horrible act against mankind may have stolen many very valuable things from us, but they cannot steal our hope. Do not let them.
So I encourage you, as I am encouraged, with the words of a worship song by Hillsong: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”. I keep my eyes fixed heavenward, knowing that someday there won’t be pain anymore.