Hope in dark times

For a week New Zealand has fought back tears brought forth by unthinkable terror touching our shores, our people, our whanau. The thought of a terror attack for many of us is still something we are struggling to get to grips with. That someone would hate so violently as to tear life from 50 people moves us to despair.

It is in these times that our nation has once again gathered united around the wonderful and powerful words of our national anthem. Originally written as a poem in the 1870s, these words have always been words that have united people from diverse backgrounds and heritages, but over the last week they have been especially imprinted on our hearts.

The second verse especially:

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

In the recent dark times, these words also serve as a prayer – that in New Zealand men and women of every creed and race would gather before our heavenly father, and ask him to guard us from dissension, envy, and hate.

Through these dark times, I have found comfort in the Psalms – reassuring me that God has and will deal with darkness in his creation. Reminding me that he hears our weeping, he has heard our cries for mercy, and has accepted our prayers. In Psalm 6, the psalmist writes:

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7           My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8           Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
9           The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10         All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

We look to the day when all those who propagate hate will turn back, and until that day we pray. I would love to invite you as you read this to spend a minute in reflective silence, and to join my prayers for our great merciful God to comfort those who have lost, to overwhelm evil, and hasten the day where he will wipe every tear from every eye and pain will be no more.