Hoppe: How to respond to treachery | MyWindsorNow.com

Hoppe: How to respond to treachery

Bruce Hoppe
For The Tribune

Hoppe, Bruce.

Once again, this past week the unthinkable happened. Another day ripped apart by a terrorized person acting out his terror: plotting and documenting an ambush of law enforcement officers in an unsuspecting apartment complex in Highlands Ranch. Throughout this week I've been in prayer for the officers wounded, the neighbors terrified and, of course, the family of slain Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish.

When things like this occur, there is a word for it: treachery. The Psalmist David knew about treachery. He was terrorized by his enemies and wrote Psalm 25, a prayer that any of us who are in pain and anguish can pray:

"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;

in you I trust, O my God.… No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,

but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse."

This week, we have experienced "treachery without excuse," but how can we respond? The first thing we can do is refuse to be defeated. We can assert with moral clarity to those who wantonly destroy the lives of innocent people: you are guilty, God knows who you are and will hold you spiritually responsible, even if your life on Earth is ended.

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At the same time, it's important we also turn to God. We pray, "To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul." In Psalm 25 there are three things David asked of God: please guide me, please forgive me and please protect me.

At times like this, we realize how desperately we need God's guidance to help us know how to respond wisely to the presence of evil in our world and within the souls of people. As we learned this week, treachery is not just an issue of international conflicts and terrorist attacks. Treachery happens in our own neighborhoods every day. And it happens behind the closed doors of homes that seem peaceful.

Many people wonder what to do with their anger when there is another brutal assault. The anger we experience needs to be transformed into a driving engine of moral and spiritual resolve, not the eruption of a volcano. In times like this we can firmly declare several things: "I resolve to stand against treachery in our city." "I resolve to advocate for civil justice and to be a person of peace." "I resolve to watch out for my neighbor." "I resolve to seek God with all my heart" "I resolve to be open to a deeper and more personal relationship with God."

Finally, we must ask God for protection. In Psalm 25:20-21 David prays, "Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you." One of the things that many in our world are dealing with right now is fear. We see terrifying things in the news, and we'll see more. But if you're struggling with fear, it's important to keep a sense of perspective.

On a week like this it's like we're taking a telescope and looking at one part of the world where awful things have happened. But this is not just a quick glance in a telescope; it's videotape being rolled through again and again and again. The fact of the matter is, in the real world there is not a bomb on every corner. Thousands of planes take off and land safely every day.

One of the great realities of life is called the "common grace" of God (Matthew 5:45). The sun rises every day, the rains water the earth and bring forth the crops we eat, children get on buses and go to school and return home at the end of the day, bankers and teachers and check-out clerks and computer technicians go to work every normal day. Kids play ball outside and the worst thing that happens is a scraped knee. This is the way things are in "the normal." The abnormal and rare events of treachery put us on alert and make us more responsible, but no one can destroy the common grace of God. Out of the rubble of tragedies always come opportunities for God's grace to prevail in fresh, new ways. We need to open our eyes to the many redemptive opportunities that lie ahead in the weeks, months and years to come.

Finally, there is this powerful phrase that the Bible repeats again and again: be strong and courageous. Deuteronomy 31:6 says: "Be strong and courageous. The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you." 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says: "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be people of courage; be strong. Do everything in love."

The coward who practiced treachery in Highlands Ranch this week wants us to feel like victims. It's up to us whether we let them.

Peace. And happy new year!

— Rev. Bruce Hoppe is on the pastoral team at Christ Community Church in Greeley (cccgreeley.org). Prior to moving to Colorado in 2004, he pastored congregations in Illinois and Massachusetts, and was involved in inner-city ministry on the streets of New York City.