News of the terrible events in Manchester broke last night, and immediately both the internet and the airwaves were filled with clamour and speculation. Nineteen confirmed dead; at least 59 hospitalised; many children still being searched for by their parents. It is the stuff of nightmares, but, in this case, the nightmare is real. We are told that the blast had all the elements of a terror attack, and the fact that the target was unarmed young people simply highlights the horror and revulsion we all feel. So, how do we deal with it?
For some, it will be necessary to talk: to spew out all the anger and frustration they feel when faced with something we none of us can control. For some, it will be more helpful to remain silent: to wrestle inwardly with rage and incomprehension and the desire for revenge which can so often find an unjust focus. And for some, there will be the apparent ‘nothingness’ of prayer: the constant dashing against Christ of all the bafflement and contradictory feelings we have in the face of such suffering. Whichever way we choose, and most of us won’t actually ‘choose’ but respond instinctively, there is one thing we need to remember: if this was a terrorist attack, a deliberately planned act, then Christ died for this sin, as he died for all human sin, and has redeeemed it. That does not lessen the pain, the sorrow or the sense of outrage, but it does allow a chink of light into the darkness.
Note: it has now been confirmed that this was a terrorist attack, and the number of those confirmed dead has risen to 22. May they rest in peace. Amen.