“Man is born into trouble ,as the sparks fly upward”- Job 5:7
“Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who forgives all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases; who redeems thy life from destruction” Ps.103:2,3,4.
Overwhelming tragedy can be extremely hard to withstand, especially when it seems so random and senseless. The recent mass shooting in our community of Virginia Beach Virginia seems to add another dimension to the randomness and insanity of violence and evil in our society. Yet even in the midst of all this, we can still rest assured that God has a plan for His children that transcends all the evil acts that surround us.
In the wake of this mass shooting, there are many avenues we can pursue to bring closure, grow spiritually, and still be empathetic to our community and fellow man. As a nation, we may find that our reaction to these events is an endless replay of the same reaction to similar events. In many ways, it is. But for the believer, and all of us who know the final outcome of man’s history, we can take great comfort in knowing that, with God’s help, we are never left comfortless. We are also never left without answers, since we are promised that “God is not the author of confusion” The Holy Spirit is our comforter, and Jesus promised Him as the one who not only comforts, but also guides us into all truth. And if it is the truth part that you are after, you are promised that you will find it. Some of the answers you receive may seem vague and general. An example might be Jesus’s promise that ” in the world you will have tribulation” The solution for this problem is the bright promise of deliverance and salvation that Christ offers to all. He follows up the first statement by saying, “but be of good comfort, for I have overcome the world” This should come as no small comfort to all of us. In my video Eternal Perspective, Part One, I stress the fact that God, contrary to popular belief, is anything but separated from our suffering and pain. And not only that, He feels our suffering more than we do. So even though our human condition takes us through a lot of dark and despairing places, we must know that God is in the midst of it with us. The sparks may be flying everywhere, but God has equipped us for the journey. To bring it into more colloquial terms, it’s like Frank Sinatra’s old song ” That’s life” You have ups and downs, or “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May” We can’t escape it and we know it, so we all must ” gird up our loins” as scripture puts it, or ” suck it up”, to use modern terminology. It may be vulgar to say, but the very blunt statement that “s_ _ _ happens” is also very effective. But so much for the kismet that follows us all and dogs all of us in this game called life. Life can be a real pain, we know full well. But for the believer, there’s something much better. And it is called providence.
” He that endures to the end will be saved” Matthew 10:22
At times I am astounded and amused by the way God seems to understate things in the Bible. In the above quote, I would substitute the word “triumphs” for endures, and maybe replace the word “glorified” for saved. But doing a word study of the word “endures” , I see that there is a lot more grit and warrior spirit in the translation then appears on the surface. As used here, we see it implying a kind of steely resolve and inner determination that reflects a glory surpassing even the most decorated soldier. Sometimes that grit and resolve are anything but passive- rather they show an ironclad commitment to remain true to yourself. As any Christian knows, the struggle to resist the world’s pressure to conform to its standards is the most difficult battle any of us face in life. But the rewards are eternal and glorious beyond our wildest imagination. The word “saved” conjures up images of being pulled out of a pit by the skin of your teeth right before you’re about to go under. Yes, to endure is a battle tactic of enormous strength. We hear of allied forces in World War 2 struggling to hold a position on a hill until supplies come in. We don’t go forcefully and directly across enemy lines the way some Hollywood war movies show. Rather we maintain, and we out think, and out manoeuvre our enemies. We instantly spot their weaknesses and exploit their Achilles heel to our advantage. The angrier and more violent they are, the stupider they are, and our task becomes that much easier. Rage truly blinds a person, and sets a trap to all who succumb to it. In our culture, anger and rage are the norm, so instead, we rely on wisdom and reason from God to insure our victories. We are, to quote scripture, “cunning as serpents, and harmless as doves”. And our abilities to carry this all out comes from heaven above, and the great, unsearchable providence of almighty God.
“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come”
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” Jn 8:32
With every insane act of evil we witness today, God seems to always show up afterward with a new revelation for us if we choose to accept the gift of discernment He provides for us to transcend every event for His glory.
Yes, another senseless, seemingly mindless mass murder occurred in our area. But if you seek the truth and have to have answers, Solomon promises here that you will have them. For this incident, I actually came across two sets of answers, and both very plausible. The first is the one that believers see every day- that people are just insane and evil because Satan has come down with great fury, knowing that his time is short. He just wants to devour every human being he can by making them as inhuman as he possibly can, and damn their souls forever. Of course, we have thousands of examples of this. We watch one grisly horror show after another, where humans have exchanged their physical body from being the temple of God to being a habitation for demons. We see fathers murder their entire loving family , kids and all, for a fling with another woman. Marriage is under attack by the prince of darkness himself, and we all tell ourselves that marriage is just “evolving” in a progressive society. Wicked politicians in lofty places declare infanticide to be a top priority. Child abuse and abduction is everywhere. These are the “perilous times” Paul warned us of, when the greatest threat to believers would not be nuclear war, or ecological calamity, but that men would become “lovers of themselves” and “without natural affection” and “treacherous”.
The second answer I came by through some insider information. I have heard through a reliable source that within the halls of Virginia Beach government, there is a well known policy of nepotism in hiring, and what is known as an “old boys network” Relatives of employees are given favor in hiring over someone who may have worked much harder and put in many more years than the one given the position. This was exposed to me as a “dirty little secret” that the city would never admit to. The shooter had worked there for 15 years, and done a “satisfactory” job. He was not about to be fired. The problem is, he might have known he was never going to get promoted either, no matter how hard he worked. He may have also been convinced that the system was entirely stacked against him, and that there was no changing it. Of course, God would have given him better opportunities elsewhere. He should have turned to God and His providence for a solution to his feeling of resentment and despair. He was truly oppressed by demonic entities to commit such an act of atrocious evil. But this is not the only point we should take from all of this. God hates injustice, and an unjust balance in the law. He hates corruption, fraud, the shedding of innocent blood, and oppressing a” hireling in his wages” God revealed to me through prayer that He hates injustice as much as He loves mercy. His mercy and and forgiveness may seem infinite, but justice and fairness are just as important to Him. And no sin escapes His notice, no matter how deep and entrenched, or widespread, or however long it has been tolerated. Interestingly, the verse directly before the verse above, ties in very well with the issue of corrupt hiring practises in the workplace. God, contrary to the way things seem, does not sweep evil under the rug.
“As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool” Proverbs 26:1