During the 1970s, the pipeline engineering firm for which I worked had a big contract with a French firm, and we had two offices in Paris. As head of the financial division of our firm, I made many trips to our offices. One evening, on the 14th of July, a colleague and I walked under the Arc de Triomphe on L'avenue des Champs-Élysées. There were thousands of people there, and there was a great atmosphere. In those days, we did not worry about suicide bombers, drive-by shootings, or hidden weapons. It was the well-known Bastille Day — the French national day which commemorates not only the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, an important event in Paris in the French Revolution, which had begun two days earlier, but also the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrated the unity of the French people on July 14, 1790. Annual celebrations are held throughout France, and indeed, celebrations were held that evening as we joined the crowds in Paris, watching people strolling along or enjoying a drink at the many sidewalk cafés.
Similar celebrations were held all over France again on July 14, 2016. That night and the next day, we saw on the news that a truck had driven into the crowd on the boulevard in Nice. Eighty-four people were killed, and hundreds injured. It appears that there is no end to the carnage, death, and destruction that some people want to inflict on other innocent people — people who were just out having a good time, watching fireworks — many of them children and teenagers.
Indeed, the people of France are weeping, especially those who lost loved ones. It is impossible for us to comprehend that just a few hours before, these people left their homes or hotels to go out and celebrate with other people, and a few hours later, so many were killed — lives lost, people sorrowing.
After we watched the news, I agonized over this. Even when things settle down, albeit temporarily, it seems that people nowadays still need closure, a word which is mentioned quite often. But we also need to grieve. Those of us who have lost a loved one know that it takes time to adjust to a new situation, but we also know that the loss will be felt for the rest of our lives.
As I thought about this situation, some Scripture passages came to mind — wonderful words of comfort in times of need for those grieving not only this terrible tragedy but also personal losses close to home.
Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. (NKJV)
Psalm 34:17 – The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. (NKJV)
Matthew 11:28 – Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (NLT)
We can pray that all those who are grieving loss at this time and are surely going through the valley of the shadow of death will be comforted and will find rest indeed.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, this is one of those times when words fail us, when we ask Your Spirit to utter words that we are just not able to find. We pray for those who have lost loved ones, and we earnestly ask that in their deepest need, You will comfort them. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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