In slightly over a month, so many things have happened yet again. Just a few months ago, we were appalled by the sexual assault allegations levelled at once-popular actor Bill Cosby, and news of the subsequent mistrial (a retrial is set to take place in April 2018). Then almost like an avalanche, Hollywood and the media world were rocked repeatedly by sexual assault allegations levelled at former icons and luminaries such as Roger Ailes (who has since died), Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Bill O’Reilly and Kevin Spacey. Accusations of sexual harassment have also taken centre stage with UK defence secretary Michael Fallon resigning from Theresa May’s already beleaguered cabinet. Others who have recently joined the line of alleged predators include former US President George H.W. Bush, film producer-director Oliver Stone and actor Jeremy Piven. Some critics are also resurfacing the sexual misconduct of former US President Bill Clinton. And so the list keeps getting longer. We would be naive to believe that all this only happens in Hollywood, the political arena and the media industry. We will not dwell on why it has taken so long for so many of these criminal behaviours to surface. We only thank God that this is finally happening. The silenced will no longer be silent. May God’s light of truth continue to shine into the darkness to expose all the devious deeds carried out in secret by evil and depraved men. O LORD Jesus, we pray for truth and justice to prevail!
As for terror attacks, these are happening around the world every month. On 31 October 2017, New York experienced a vehicle-ramming terror attack similar to those that occurred in Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Charlottesville, Barcelona and Edmonton. Unfortunately, tragic as these might have been, they pale in comparison to other incidents in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Two cases in point are the truck bombing in Somalia on 14 October 2017 that killed and injured more than 358 and 400 people, respectively, as well as the suicide car bombing in Syria on 4 November 2017 that killed more than 100 and injured about 140.
Then there are also the equally disturbing non-terrorist-related shootings, such as the one that took place on church grounds in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and injuring 20. On 14 November 2017, another shooting took place in northern California, including at an elementary school.
As for natural disasters, we know that Vietnam was struck by Typhoon Damrey on 4 November 2017, leaving at least 106 people dead. It is reportedly the strongest typhoon in 16 years to make landfall in Vietnam. On 12 & 13 November 2017, the deadliest earthquake in 2017 thus far (magnitude 7.3) struck the Iran-Iraq border, leaving at least 530 dead and more than 8,000 injured.
Once again, we pray for the recently bereaved, the injured, the displaced and the traumatised. We also pray for those in authority to have the wisdom to respond to these situations decisively and effectively, even as we pray for an extra measure of grace for those involved in homeland and cross-border security, as well as first responders and medical teams. We pray in particular for the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ, to arise and respond in a way that would bring God’s comfort and truth to all those around. May these tragic moments be a time for soul-searching, reconciliation and an earnest search for the one true God. May those who are in despair be comforted and found by God Almighty, our Heavenly Father.
Moreover, while the politics of the USA, UK, North Korea and even Spain and Zimbabwe have dominated the headlines recently, many are also watching closely the developments in the Middle East, especially following “the purge” executed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has led to the arrest of an estimated 500 persons, including 11 Saudi princes as well as ministers and members of the Saudi business elite. Adding to the suspense are the sudden resignation and alleged detention of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia, with Lebanon caught up in the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran (as well as the Iran-backed and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, whose military prowess has grown with its heavy involvement in the war in Syria). The threat of another war with Hezbollah has significantly raised tensions in Israel, with the possibility of a Saudi-Iranian proxy war taking place through an Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, all in the midst of the recent convergence of Israeli, Saudi Arabian and US rhetoric against Iran.
Despite all these developments, we remember Matthew 24 about the “signs of the End Times” and “wars and rumours of wars”, and therefore should not be surprised by all that is happening around us. We can cling to the promise that God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 28). We know God our Father is wise and faithful. His thoughts and ways are higher (Isaiah 55: 8 & 9). He is also compassionate and gracious, and does not want to see anyone perish (2 Peter 3: 9). Yet He is a God who is fair and He provides His created beings with choice – to choose or to reject Him. These critical developments around the world provide ample opportunities for all sinners to acknowledge the fragility and brevity of human life, and their need for God in their lives.
With this in mind, let us not be disheartened. Instead, let us press on and continue to pray for one another and to intercede for the nations.