Fifty-one people were killed and nearly seventy injured in a Turkish town near the Syrian border on Saturday night. While no group had claimed responsibility for the attack as of Monday afternoon, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was quick to lay the blame at ISIS’s feet. The blast, set off by a suicide bomber no older than fourteen, took place late in the evening at a Kurdish wedding celebration. Given the attacker’s age, it’s unclear whether he detonated the vest himself or if it was triggered remotely.
Many of those killed and wounded were no older than the bomber, as the children were gathered closer to where the detonation took place while their parents and other adults danced in the street. And while knowing why the attack happened will do little to comfort those now mourning the loss of family and friends, the prevailing belief is that the target was chosen in retaliation for the Kurds’ help in driving ISIS out of their Syrian stronghold of Manbij and/or as a warning to Turkey, who recently stated that they would step up their official presence in the conflict.
It would appear that ISIS wants other nations to think twice before entering the fray, which is understandable considering the fairly consistent defeats the terrorist organization has suffered across recent months. Similar logic is behind the escalating violence in Baghdad, and it’s really the only thing they can do to fight back as their footprint in the region grows smaller and smaller. Their willingness to show a complete disregard for innocent life is part of what makes the group so dangerous, but it also offers constant reminders of why it’s so important that they be defeated.
President Erdogan reiterated that sentiment to his people and the world on Sunday, saying, “Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us—you will not succeed!” That resolve will likely continue to be tested across the coming months, which is all the more reason for us to pray that this fight ends sooner rather than later. However, the promise of further attacks is not a reason to withdraw from the fight.
As Edmond Burke purportedly wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That’s true of those fighting ISIS in the Middle East, and it’s true of us as well. God has a place for every one of his children on the front lines of our battle against evil, and each of us has been uniquely and specifically gifted for our part in that fight (1 Corinthians 12).
And while it may seem safer, at times, to look on instead of actively engage through prayer and a full commitment to being used however the Lord deems necessary, the danger of not opposing the evil in this world is no less real or imminent for those on the sidelines than it is for those engaged in the struggle. Whether you feel its effects directly or through damage done to the kingdom to which every believer is inextricably linked, you are already a part of this fight and circumstances will remind you of that eventually. The only question left to answer is whether you’d like that reminder to come on God’s terms or the enemy’s.
The Lord has called us to be actively engaged in the fight for the souls of this world. He promised that the gates of Hell would not withstand our assault and that his Spirit will equip us with everything we need to play our role in that fight so long as we are fully committed to obeying him (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 6:10–18).
Where are you on that battlefield today? Are you actively engaged in the struggle, living each day in obedience to God’s will, or are you looking on trying your best not to be noticed? The relative safety of that second option will only last so long and will leave you unprepared for when the fight eventually finds you. So embrace your calling, trust God’s promises, and take your place alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. Ultimately, you’ll find no safer place than in the center of God’s will. Is that where you are today?