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The Word on the Week

Nice Bastille Day

Bastille Day in the Mediterranean resort of Nice will be remembered for the carnage created this week by a Tunisian lorry driver cum jihadist. The murderous drive down the crowded boulevard at 50 mph left 84 dead and many seriously injured.
How Mohamed Bouhlel was able to park his hired 19 tonne refrigerated truck in an adjacent street to the boulevard, prior to the area being cordoned off for the festivities, is a matter for another day. Suffice to say that someone was less than vigilant. The vehicle presents a new weapon in Europe although apparently common enough in the crowded cities of Iraq. It has the advantage of the operative only requiring a driving licence and perhaps not even that since it is a one way trip.
In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, they have had a democracy for the last two years. Presumably this has angered ISIS as there have been five major attacks inside the country culminating with the beach attach in Sousse killing 38 holidaymakers and collapsing the tourist industry. Bouhlel came from Sousse where his father has produced evidence to show his son suffered from depression. The 31 year old Bouhlel was a father of three, was involved in divorce proceedings and lived alone. He may well have been depressed and possibly on drugs as some numbing of feelings would surely be required before undertaking such an evil enterprise.
The object of the Islamic State appears to be to instil terror by creating slaughter in European cities. As their war in the Middle East becomes less successful more Jihads are freed up to return to their homelands. Previously they could have gained employment from the tourist trade but with its demise due to terror attacks in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia they are free to exercise their recently learned skills in terrorism. No doubt some of them will join the westward stream of refugees and end up in nice towns like Nice.
In creating terror in a population the terrorist hopes there will be some retaliation. Nothing disables the moral compass of a nation faster than the cry for vengeance. The meeting of steel with steel. The spilling of blood is a great recruiting sergeant! The cycle of violence escalates spreading destruction that becomes increasingly difficult to stop.
The Scriptures offer an alternative way. These words were written by Isaiah in times of crisis and were used to steady Kings; “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal (Chapter 26 verses 3-4).
Jesus picked up on the illustration of the ‘rock’ and used it to summarise the Sermon on the Mount. St Matthew records there are two things you can do with the sermon. One is to build your life on these words of Jesus, which have an eternal value, the other is to ignore them and face destruction (Chapter 7 verses 24-27).
To those who took Jesus at his word there were these promises given at a time of great anxiety for the disciples; “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (St John Chapter 14 verse 27). Terrorists may well come but when they do trusting Jesus words can be our Rock.