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Tragedy on Temple Tuesday: Brussels

People walk away from the broken windows at Zaventem Airport in Brussels after an explosion on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. At least 26 people were reported dead. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)Three explosions detonated in the Belgian capital of Brussels, killing at least 34 people. According to Belgian media, these explosions wounded about 170 more. In the heart of Europe and the capital of the European Union, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters, "We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened." A widely circulated Twitter post from ISIS backers featured the words, "What will be coming is worse."

Days ago, authorities there captured Europe's most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam—the latest of many suspected terrorists caught in the small European country. Talking to CNN, a U.S. counterterrorism official said, "The Belgians have been sitting on a ticking time bomb." With an extraordinarily high proportion of citizens who have been to Iraq as well as insular Muslim communities that shield jihadists, Belgian security officials face a momentous challenge.

And all of this erupted on Holy Tuesday morning.

On early Tuesday morning of Holy Week, Jesus was making his way to the temple, where he would be subject to questions and speculation—but such was the life of the Messiah. Before reaching the temple, however, Jesus walked past a fruitless fig tree.

Jesus, in a seemingly random outburst, said, "May you never bear fruit again!" The fig tree then withered, and his disciples were amazed. They asked how this could have happened, though they had seen other equally stunning miracles. And Jesus, in characteristic fashion, used the now withered tree to speak about the power of faith.

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Perhaps it is ironic that we woke up this morning in need of a lesson on faith. As we glance at the headlines or listen to cable news or talk radio, the bombardment of brokenness seeks to squelch what little faith we have left. The feelings of helplessness overwhelm us as we struggle to decide whom to support for President, then wonder if our candidate can even do anything. The complexity of the problems creates apathetic visions of the future.

But as Jesus reminds us on a walk to the temple on Tuesday of Holy Week, if you believe, you will receive.

The news gives us a multitude of reasons to doubt. Chance and probability saturate our minds, leading us to limit our expectations, which also introduces a certain dose of faithlessness. As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."

But Jesus, on an early morning walk past a fig tree, beckons us to continue with him. Instead of doubting, we believe in prayer with the expectation that we will receive.

What would it look like if we stopped measuring our expectations in prayer and started boldly petitioning our God in faith?

As we look to the past, we find a God who is more than capable of doing far more than we can ask or imagine.

This God created something magnificent out of absolutely nothing. He used a man with a stutter to persuade Pharaoh to free his entire workforce. He chose a little brother who played the harp to be a mighty warrior who conquered kingdoms. He transformed a murdering persecutor of the church into a martyred pillar of the church. He defeated death.

Today, you may not walk past a fig tree, but you walk with heartache at the brokenness of the world. The brokenness may give the appearance of darkness, but remember that you walk with the Father of all lights (James 1:17). He can mend broken hearts, use evil to accomplish good, and convert enemies into allies. Do you believe that? Have you prayed that?

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