Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
~ Isaiah 40:1 (NIV)
In July, 2011 the world was stunned as peaceful Norway experienced a bombing in downtown Oslo and the shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital. When the dust settled, the shocking death toll stood at seventy-six. Letters and e-mails of comfort, support and prayers for the grieving families and nation poured into the Open Doors-Norway office. On July 25th our Norwegian Director sent out the following message:
On behalf of our people and nation, I want to thank all of you around the world who are praying for us and are sending words of comfort after the terrible acts that have shaken the nation.
A week ago my wife and I met the Ortiz family in Ariel, Israel. They experienced a bomb attack that almost killed their son Ami a few years ago. They gave us a cup with the Israeli and Norwegian flags on it, and an inscription from Isaiah 40:1, Comfort, yes comfort my people! The last days these words have become a message to our people, the Norwegian nation.
In Haifa we also met the parents of a Christian girl who was one of many victims after a suicide bomber killed dozens of Israeli school children on a bus some years ago. Every year they have a memorial day. They have buttons with the text: ‘Don’t forget – don´t forgive.’ But the Christian parents said, ‘We cannot wear that button. We do not want revenge or hatred to fill our hearts. We are called to forgive and love.’ But of course, they will always have the pain.
It is not possible to find words that express the pain and sadness we feel after such cruel deeds. But we can already see good and beautiful things coming up. People are focusing on how to comfort and help each other. People cry together, and king, queen and prime minister show their emotions before the whole nation. Politicians from different parties are talking to another in a different way, and people admire their good leadership in this difficult time. There are great discussions and wise speeches about the most important subjects. As a nation we have hard days, but also days of learning.
People come to church in a very humble way. It is a place for prayers, lamentations, hope, comfort and love in these days; a place to meet the Comforter and Saviour.
In Open Doors we frequently get information about terror against sisters and brothers from so many places in the world. Some times it feels ‘far away.’ But now we will hopefully understand more of the fear and threat every persecuted Christian faces in their lives.
Grace and peace! The staff of Open Doors-Norway
RESPONSE: Thank God that He comforts us so that we can use His comfort to comfort others.
PRAYER: Pray today for all brothers and sisters experiencing the fear and pain of terror and loss.