Shahrukh Khan, 16, told the AFP news agency that he ducked below a desk when gunmen entered his classroom.
Speaking from Lady Reading Hospital, he said: “I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.” (“Peshawar Taliban school attack: Eyewitness accounts,” BBC News, 17 December 2014, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30505504.)
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
(Matthew 2:18 NIV)
I was upset that there were so many stories in the news today, a lot of it Christmas fluff. There should only be one story and it should be framed by broad black borders. The facts are simple and feel totally unreal. Yesterday (16 December 2014), the Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing at least 141 people, including 132 children. A key test of our humanity is how we treat the weakest and most dependent among us. The attackers had no demands. They just went from room to room killing children, “pumping bullets into their bodies”. I am too numb even to be angry. I was still reeling from the hostage taking in Sydney and mindful of the daily violence in some parts of the world. Nothing prepared me for this atrocity.
How are we to respond? We cry out to the Lord to remove such evil. Never again, we pray. And we are praying for God to close the curtains on history. He has made it clear that evil will be removed once and for all at the end of history (Revelation 20). Only then will the curtains reopen to a new heaven and a new earth, and then and only then will there be no more such horrors.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1–4 NIV)
Such a sentiment is already contained in the Lord’s model prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) when Jesus teaches us to pray “your kingdom come . . .”. No wonder the apostle John cries “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20b NIV), after all the pain he had seen, and all the pain he had suffered.
We know that the Lord will return to set things right once and for all. As we celebrate Christmas and remember His first coming, we remember that He is a God who keeps His word. He said He would come the first time and He did. He will come again.
What the Taliban did in Peshawar is not the first time evil people have targeted children for a political agenda. In an attempt to kill the baby Jesus whom he saw as a threat to his power, Herod ordered the killing of all the boys in Jerusalem who were two years old and younger (Matthew 2:16). Matthew 2:18 records the anguish of the mothers who lost their boys in Herod’s slaughter. But in Matthew 2:19, we are told of Herod’s death. Justice will come soon enough. Indeed Jesus escaped Herod’s evil and grew up to be the one who would defeat evil decisively.
Today, not even good theology will stem the pain in our hearts and dry the tears in our eyes. We weep with those who weep. But we also remember “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b NIV).
The sun is slowly sinkin’
The day’s almost gone
Still darkness falls all around us
And we must journey on
The darkest hour is just before dawn
The narrow way leads home
Lay down your soul at Jesus’ feet
The darkest hour is just before dawn
(“Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn,” Ralph Stanley)