Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why Lord?

Dear Friends,

In a church? During the service? Why Lord? Surging emotions of sadness. Overwhelming grief. Immediate prayers for those injured. Prayers for the souls of those killed. May Jesus open His arms to each one as His angels carry them to Heaven this morning. Eight members of one family, from grandparents to grandchildren, went to church on a Sunday morning and in the instant their hearts stopped beating, God reached down and snatched up their souls to Heaven where they will be spending eternity with the One who they came to worship that day.Thank you Lord that you love and care for each one of your children. Reports that everyone who went to the First Baptist Church in that small Texas town on Sunday was shot. So far twenty seven dead. Half of those killed were young children–one an unborn infant. Another twenty four injured. Difficult to hold back tears. Difficult to process the emotionally-jumbled thoughts of anger, sadness and fear. The fourth deadliest mass killing in America occurred in a church? During the service? Why Lord?

One of the most difficult questions asked by both believers and non-believers is this: “If God is so good, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world and in our lives.” We know that people suffer in unspeakable ways and die every moment of every day. But how does a good God allow a massacre on a Sunday morning in church? Our Bible tells us that God does love us. He does protect us. He does heal in response to our prayers. He does have a plan for our life. But sometimes life is wonderful and sometimes it’s not. Some of us have listened to preachers who have promised prosperity and an abundance of God’s blessings on our life. We have formed something called “Entitlement Christianity” and expect God’s favor on our life. Then the divorce happens. The bank calls. The doctor gives us the diagnosis. The drunk driver crosses over the center divider. The earthquake happens. The gunman walks into a church. We are stunned. Angry at God. How could He let us down! Doesn’t He know we are Christians!

God is good and yet we live in a fallen world thanks to our ancestors. Genesis 3 tells us that, as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, the entire relationship between God and His creation changed. But as soon as that apple touched the lips of Eve, a cross appeared on the horizon. Sin has infected our life in this our temporary home on earth, and we live in a world filled with suffering and evil, but in the cross we have the hope for our future. that apple touched the lips of Eve, 
a cross appeared on the horizon.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 And as we remember the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, we are reminded that we don’t suffer alone. There is nothing you or I will ever endure that God has not already experienced.

But in a church? During the service? Why Lord? Because we do live in a fallen world. And at the same time, God can turn our worst circumstances into something for His good. Our very familiar Romans 8:28 tells us: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” That doesn’t say that everything that happens to us is good. But it says that when we love God, He will use the worst circumstances for good even when it seems impossible for Him to do that. Lord during those times when we cannot imagine how good could come out of evil, increase our trust in You when we must walk by faith, not by sight.

How can God bring something good out of the worst church massacre in America’s history so soon after our Nation’s deadliest mass shooting in Las Vegas? Maybe by bringing evil to our doorstep, we have been awakened out of our spiritual slumber. We have ignored the evil throughout the world. Paid no attention to the Muslim-led genocide of 90,000 Christians per year in the Middle East and Africa. Paid no attention to the Palm Sunday church bombings and mass killings in Egypt. Too far away. Can’t relate. But suddenly it’s different. We are now experiencing waves of evil in our own Nation. But can God really turn this into good? Yes because evil drives us to God. Evil compels us to examine our own complacency. Evil forces us to our knees in prayer. Evil can even change the hearts of the most hardened non-believers. At the end of his life, the atheist Jean-Paul Sartre admitted, “I needed God...I reached out for religion; I longed for it, it was the remedy. Had it been denied me, I would have invented it for myself.”

In a church. During the service. An unspeakably evil act. The remedy for evil is faith and that’s why our response is heart-felt prayers. In John 11 we read that when Lazarus died and Mary fell down at the feet of Jesus and wept, Jesus groaned in His spirit and was troubled. And then Jesus wept. And today, our spirit is troubled. And we weep. Let’s continue to keep the people in Sutherland Springs, Texas in our prayers.  Amen?

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