This past weekend the country was rocked by yet another tragedy… this time a small country church in Sutherland Springs, Texas felt the pain of unspeakable tragedy as a deranged gunman took the lives of 26 of its members who were gathered to peacefully worship God. Of course, time continues to move forward and as it does, we will learn more about the tragic event and believers in Christ who were left shaken… understandably wondering how and why such things continue to happen.
While I am among the thousands who grieve over the senseless loss and pray for God’s peace to cover the lives and comfort the hearts of those who now struggle with unimaginable confusion, we must resist the tendency to allow our faith to be wobbled by the events we see more frequently unfolding in the world.
Paul’s exhortation to the early Christians who faced nearly unrelenting persecution seems more relevant today than ever. He urged them to intentionally move their focus off of the ever-changing events that occurred around them and instead “to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Today, I want to remind you of three “heavenly things” that cannot and will not ever be shaken by anything or anyone on this earth…
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice…. righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Ps. 97:1-2
God knows all things, is in control of all things, and has the power to change all things. (Ps 103:19) But remember that His knowledge isn’t limited to simple facts like how many stars there are or how deep the ocean is; His understanding extends to the deep things of your heart as well. His sovereignty reminds us that we don’t face any situation alone. God is with us, and is aware of where we are. And the really good news for believers is that not only are we existing in His presence, He is also present with us in a deeply personal way through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:17 Jesus says that the Spirit “lives with you and will be in you.” So when you face unexplainable things that threaten your sense of security, be encouraged that THE King still rules, and lives with you, and assures you that you are never alone.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matt. 24:35
The Bible is the eternal, unalterable, unchanging, infallible, inerrant Word of the living God and there are no mistakes in God’s conversation. It is our written guide and we must learn to elevate it above all other opinions and interpret what we hear in the world though it, rather than interpreting IT through what we hear in the world. The uncomfortable fact is that no matter what we hear from certain pastors and teachers, we aren’t promised health, wealth, and safety on this earth. In stark contrast, we’re actually told that anyone who lives godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12) However, instead of wilting under suffering, Peter gives us a new eternal perspective to adopt when we go through baffling situations. “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
but now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”- Eph. 2:13
For those who know Jesus as Savior, the wonderful unshakable news is that you have been given hope through a new relationship with Christ. This isn’t the kind of vague wishing that most people have when they say “I hope things will get better” or “I hope my situation will turn out OK.” As a believer, you have certainty and a guarantee that rests securely in Jesus Christ. He is our hope! And because we have Him, we have a new relationship that keeps us from ever being victims of circumstance. “If that’s the case,” one may wonder, “How do you explain all the crazy stuff that’s happening in the world today?” I believe that the calamities that occur around the world (and now in our own backyard) underscore the reality of the evil that exists in the human heart and should help us to realize our absolute and total desperate need of the grace of God. We can’t save ourselves and our attempts to provide our own security are usually an illusion and temporary at best. Our only recourse is to rest in His arms of mercy and trust that regardless of what happens to us on this earth, we can add our voices to the words of the patriarch Job (who endured multiplied tragedies), and confidently proclaim …
“I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end He will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God!