08 Nov Questions from Sutherland Springs, Texas
Questions from Sutherland Springs, Texas
By now we are all sadly aware of the shooting that took place this past Sunday in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. 27 people were killed and another 20 wounded. Our hearts are heavy for the grieving and those traumatized by the event. I was grateful for the opportunity to pray for the survivors and fellow believers of that church at our Prayer and Praise gathering this past Sunday night.
What are we to make of that horrific event? Such tragedies raise all kinds of questions. How could God allow this? How should we respond? Are we safe in our own church on Sunday mornings? Let me attempt three responses to such questions.
First, whenever we are close to these kinds of situations, or any tragedy, I believe it is best not to rush in with Romans 8:28. That verse says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Too often well intentioned Christians feel the need to turn other’s pain into “teachable moments” when in reality sympathy and care is what is needed. In moments of grief we should come with comfort and support, pointing to God’s nearness to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). Processing the event theologically should come later, i.e. that God could somehow use tragedy for our good and His glory in ways we can’t see or imagine.
Second, when appropriate we can affirm that God’s ways are not our ways. He has not revealed to us all of His purposes or plans. We are incapable of grasping all of God’s ways as He is infinite and we are finite. Our task is to lean on what He’s revealed in His Word and trust Him in areas that He’s not revealed everything. Deuteronomy 29:29 is very helpful when it says ““The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” We always go where His Word takes us and then we trust Him with the rest. We don’t understand all that happens in this world and why but God has proven Himself trustworthy through the ultimate act of mercy and compassion in the incarnation, perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Third, let us not give in to fear. Some may see this event as a reason to forego worship attendance out of concern for their own safety. Let me assure you that we take measures for our security here at HLPC and have done so for some time now. I’ll not share specifics, but the leadership of the church takes this very seriously. Further, the odds of such an event happening in a church are extremely rare. I encourage you to read this article from The Gospel Coalition web site that has a very helpful perspective.
What should we do then in light of what has happened? Let’s pray for the grieving, the traumatized, and the wounded. Let’s pray for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Let’s pray for those who are ministering to the suffering in that church and community. Let us also not give in to fear but trust God and His Word even when we struggle to make sense of our fallen world.