Unwavering Hope Amidst Terror
I walked through the halls of a middle school in my town this morning overhearing bits and pieces of conversations among students. I heard words like "threat", "guns", and "shooting". I was stopped and questioned by a principal and police officer before I ever got close to the door. Parents are losing their minds on social media. One thing I'm not hearing communicated: hope.
At this particular point in United States history tension is high. People are scared. They are becoming ever aware of what Christians have known all along. This world is evil. People are evil. Under this reality they are experiencing something true to every single human being. We are not in control. No matter how hard we try to cushion and pad our existence in this world, we cannot control things. But we desperately want to. Where is comfort? Where is hope?
People are looking for control that only God has; they are looking for comfort that only God can give. We want to protect our children in schools. We can't. We want to keep the flu from spreading. We can't. We want to avoid death. We can't. We want to have the control God has, but only God is God. Only God can provide us comfort and hope.
God is in control. He is in control of everything. Our humanity and the desire to be gods ourselves pushes back on this. We don't like for anyone to take away our control or our choice. We don't like to think that we are not the fulfillers of our own future, but so many external factors lie outside our control that to consider ourselves as sovereign is foolish. Instead, if we know the God of the Bible and His character, His controlling of things should bring us great relief.
What About Evil?
First thing's first: God is not the author of evil. Instead the Bible tells us that apart from Christ none of us do good (Rom. 3:9-18) and we all do evil deeds (Col. 1:21). In fact, the Bible tells us that we all by our very nature are children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). This is who we are and when God restrains our nature so that we do what we perceive to be good things, this is God being gracious and merciful to us and humanity as a whole.
What we do see biblically is that God is in control. Evil is not purposeless. Instead, God is using the evil deeds done by humans to achieve His glory. When Job loses everything and his wife encourages him to curse God and die Job responds, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10). Joseph, in confronting his brothers after they sold him into slavery says to them, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen. 50:20). In Lamentations we see God's sovereignty over the good and the bad as a measure of bringing His people back to Him. "Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!" (Lam. 3:37-40).
Do We Trust God?
Do we trust God with the things we hold most dear to us? Do we truly believe He's in control? Do we trust Him with our lives and our eternity?
The beauty of the gospel is that it frees us from control. When we are saved, we effectively say that we can't, but God can. We surrender our lives to a good, holy, sovereign God. He showed us the ultimate act of His character when He sent His only Son to die for sinners. Let's be clear, He sent His Son to die for His enemies, for people who hated Him. If God did that, should we not trust Him with our lives? Should we not trust Him with our children's lives?
God's control should bring us comfort because He is so much greater than we are. Romans 8:28 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." If you are a Christian, I pray this would encourage you. All things work together for good: school shootings, flu epidemics, losing children, etc. We whom God has saved can claim this promise and believe it. That is comfort. That is hope.
Do you love God? Friend, if you don't know Jesus as your savior then the above verse is not true for you. In fact, you are still His enemy; you are a child of wrath. The greatest hope is that Jesus said all you have to do to be saved by Him is to repent of your sins and believe in Him. Turn from being your own sovereign (you can't anyway) and living for yourself and believe that Jesus died and took God's wrath in your place. You too can know the only hope to be found in this world.