Remembering Sutherland Springs, Texas
Last Sunday, November 5th 2017, a pastor’s teenage daughter was killed, along with twenty-five other people, as well as the shooter, at The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Eight members of Bryan Holcombe’s family died, as well as Bryan himself. He was the Pastor that morning. For the small community of Sutherland Springs, 4% of their population died that Sunday at the hands of a mentally deranged gunman.
This, as you might expect, has brought a lot of questions to the table about how God would allow such a tragedy and why He didn’t stop it before it took place. Knowing my beliefs and the role I serve here at our Chapel, I was bombarded with these types of questions.
I certainly don’t have any concrete answers on why but, as I do in any times of sorrow (or gladness), I turned to my Bible to seek out any answers that might give me a little more insight into why our Lord would allow such violence and evil.
From the very beginning God had given us free-will. We are able to rule ourselves, guide our own actions and make our own decisions in life. God asked us only to follow some simple guidelines and, clearly, He would take care of the rest.
Genesis 2:16-17 – “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”
Simple, don’t you think? Out of all the trees in this paradise called The Garden of Eden, God only asked that we avoid this one (temptation)…. and we failed Him on that one rule.
Again, in Galatians, we are told once more of our freedom and, likewise, how not to abuse it.
Galatians 5:13 – “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
But look at most of us today. We’re always too busy following our own path and trying for what “we” want instead of relying on our God to help guide and provide us only what we need.
Evil is Driven by Satan
There are people that truly believe God does terrible things to test us and question our faith. These people honestly think God carries out awful deeds simply to show His might and remind us of His ultimate power … Life and Death.
I am here to disagree… for the Bible tells us very clearly:
James 1:13-16 – “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”
“Dragged away by their own evil desire.” Doesn’t that sound more realistic to you? God doesn’t tempt us or encourage wrong-doings! This gunman, in his insanity and evil mindedness, acted completely on his own, driven by Satan and was most certainly NOT directed by any words from God.
Ignoring the Signs
Have you ever had that “gut-feeling” about something you were about to do; didn’t do it; and found out later it would have been an utter catastrophe if you did? I most certainly have and always consider it a sign from God and I feel protected.
Please don’t misunderstand me in thinking I am saying all of these poor people probably saw a sign and ignored it as I am not implying that at all! I am simply bringing this topic up as a reminder that we all need to recognize the signs God puts before us and act upon His guidance. Especially when making important decisions about our lives.
The disciples recognized the signs early on in Christ’s ministry…
John 2:11 – “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”
Want another example of signs and how “things are not always as they seem?” Here is a simple story about a man’s conversation with God I’m sure you have all heard, as it’s all of the Internet, but I wanted to share it one more time.
Me: God, can I ask You a question? God: Sure.
Me: Promise You won’t get mad? God: I promise.
Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today? God: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I woke up late. God: Yes
Me: My car took forever to start. God: Okay
Me: At lunch they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait and was late getting back to work. God: Hmmm.
Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call. God: All right.
Me: And on top of it all, when I got home I just wanted to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn’t work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?
God: Let me see if I can answer your questions child; In the early morning hours, The Angel of Death was at your bedside and I had sent one of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.
Me (humbled): OH
GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you, hurt you and maybe even taken your life.
Me: (ashamed) God: The first person who made your sandwich today was very sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they had, as I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.
Me (embarrassed): okay
God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was a fellow employee after your job and was going to give false witness about what you said and how you spoke on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them, so you would be covered.
Me (softly): I see God
God: Oh, and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all the power in your house tonight and perhaps even hurt you. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me: I’m Sorry God
God: Don’t be sorry, just learn to Trust Me…. in All things, the Good & the bad.
Me: I will trust You.
God: And don’t doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than yours.
Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.
God: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children.
Learn to recognize the little signs from God. They may be so simple and trivial to you and you give them no thought but, in the long run, they may make a big difference in your day.
Death is Not an End
This is very important to remember. Most people see death as an ending. A termination of all that we know and an end to everything we’ve labored for in our lives.
For us, as Christians, we need to remember that this is simply NOT the truth. Death to us is a new beginning; one with greater peace and joy along with a harmonious relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
John 5:24 – “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
No more pain; no more sorrow or sadness and no more fear of evil for, in the everlasting life that Jesus has promised, these things simply don’t exist.
Pray for The One’s Left Behind
Surely the survivors and families of those that lost their lives are in great mourning, as would anyone be… they will need our help, and surely God’s, to help them recover from their loss and regain their faith. We need to remember…
Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds-up their wounds.”
And also, as Jesus told us…
Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Pray for those that lost their lives, but simply ask that God welcome them with open arms into His Holy Kingdom for they truly are at peace now.
Pray for those left behind that God grant them strength to endure their pain and move forward with their lives, in Jesus, and comfort them in the Loving arms of the Angels.
Assuredly I say to you… these people will move on; they will find their strength, courage and faith again in our Lord. We ARE children of God and Brothers and Sisters of our Savior Jesus Christ. We will NOT let the devil beat us into submission and we WILL win this battle against evil as we have a legion of Angels fighting beside us sent down to us from our Father in Heaven!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless!