No one alive today remembers this, but on this day, 100 years ago, a 19 year-old shot and murdered a royal couple, for reasons he must have believed were valid.
How could he have possibly known what this murder would trigger?
Did he ever imagine the millions who would die in the years of war that would follow his act of violence?
Could he have envisioned the countless people who have never been born in the generations since, because their would-be fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers perished in the mud of some European battlefield? The innocent civilians, having nothing to do with his grievances, but swept away in the torrent of war?
Only You know, Father, but I doubt he thought of any of that. There's no way he could have.
And that's what I pray about tonight, Father, for all of us.
The tempter deceives us still. Our adversary encourages us to have more confidence in our own vision than we have in Yours. The serpent still whispers that we know as much as You do, that You're the one who isn't being truthful, and that You're afraid of us becoming like You.
The deceiver affirms our sense that we have the power to manipulate others, to see the future, and most of all, to determine in advance the scope and limits of our ungodly acts. We hear the voice that tells us we can say and do what is hurtful to someone, and still control the splash, direct the dominoes, and keep the fire of our sin safely where we can see and control it.
But the truth is, there's a reason You have told us vengeance is Your sole domain.
We honestly can't see in advance where the river of our rage will roll, where it will overrun its banks, and who beyond our target will be swept away in its rapids.
We just can't see it, and You know that about us, and that's why You ask us to trust You.
God, we do trust You, and we ask you to help our distrust!
It's easy to sit here today and think young Gavrilo Princip was just another hateful, politically-motivated, short-sighted fool. It's easy to cast him aside as a nut, a terrorist, a murderer, a moron who was too stupid to realize his murderous act would explode into something he never could have imagined, and hurt people far beyond the scope of his grievance.
Yes, it's easy to think all that, until I remember some of the times I have listened to the same deceitful message, and thought I could control sin.
It didn't work for Gavrilo, and it doesn't work for me.
Father, please continue to be patient.