“When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)
Sunday morning, November 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 and wounded 20 others at a Texas church over what appears to be a domestic dispute.
Many questions are being asked: “How did he get access to guns with his history?” “Why did he target so many innocent people?” “When will these mass shootings stop?” “Who and where is next?” and maybe the biggest question of all: “Why did God allow this evil in his church, of all places?”
Did you know that Jesus was asked why certain Galileans died at the hand of Pilate?
Did you know that Jesus also spoke about those who died from the tower of Siloam?
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:4)
Jesus addressed both natural evil and the moral evil perpetrated by bad men. His answer to both: they weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners like all mankind, and all need to repent and be ready meet their Creator. We are all sinners living in a sinful world, ruled by a sinful devil. We all need eternal life which comes by repenting of our sins and believing on Jesus Christ as the only true God.
Pastor Frank Pomeroy told reporters: “Christ is the one who’s going to be lifted up. That is what I’m telling everybody. You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord…whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand, but I know my God does. And that’s where I’ll leave that.”
Pastor’s wife, Sherri said: “We lost more than Belle yesterday. One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa. Our church is not comprised of members or parishioners. We are a very close family. We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and worshiped together.”
These are amazing words from a husband and wife who lost a 14-year-old daughter along with many loved church members. The pastor said, “You lean into what you do not understand, by leaning into the Lord.”
Dr. Reggie Anderson, the author of Appointments with Heaven, lost six family members to a violent crime committed by escaped prisoners. He lost his faith in a God who could stand by and allow this evil to happen to his God-fearing family.
Jesus visited him in a dream, showing him all six of his family who had been brutally killed. They were all standing waving at him, healthy, happy and without any scars or signs of their horrible deaths. They let him know that what had happened to them had happened for a purpose and that they were very happy to be with their Lord.
Franklin Graham, Beth Moore, John Hagee, Tony Evans, Anne Graham Lotz, Max Lucado and many other well-known preachers have offered their prayers while confirming what Jesus has already taught us; we live in a fallen world where evil things can happen to us at any time. The god of this world has come to steal, kill and destroy and he uses people to create pain and suffering.
Jesus came to give us abundant life with joy, and we can only receive inner peace in the midst of the valley of death by “leaning into the Lord” as our source of wisdom and strength. Jesus wants us to have our sins confessed and forgiven so that whenever and however we die, we will immediately be with Him for eternity.
Instead of blaming God and denying your faith in Him, learn as Dr. Anderson did, to see that He is always with you in your darkest nights, and is reaching for you to trust Him when no words can make sense of the chaos around you. David knew that God was with him even in the valley of death’s shadow. Pastor Pomeroy knows that even when we can’t understand, we can always lean into the everlasting arms of our Lord as our source of wisdom and peace.
We all live in a sinful world and are subject to suffering and death at any time. The question should be:
“Am I ready to meet my God in peace if I should die today?” Once we have our sins forgiven and stand with Jesus in our heavenly bodies, we will have no regrets over the manner in which our mortal bodies suffered and died. There is no more pain, tears or suffering of any kind with Christ in heaven!
Anne Graham Lotz said; “He never ever has promised to protect us from suffering, pain, and death. But He has promised to be with us and bring us through…when we place our faith in Him.”
Augustine said, “God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”
C.S. Lewis said, “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”