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I cry with the survivors and with all America over the senseless deaths of seventeen beautiful young lives wastefully slaughtered in a single act of meaningless violence this past week. I cry over the hateful, invective-spewing division in America, as some scream, “Guns!” while others scream, “People!” As a Christian, I ask myself, how exactly can faith in Jesus Christ help at a time like this?
Two verses come to mind, one from the Old Testament and one from the New:
Isaiah 50:7 But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint (solid rock), and I know that I shall not be put to shame. (ESV)
Hebrews 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
“For God so loved the world that he gave” his Son in a human body. Jesus wasn’t a bionic man, not a superman. His body of human flesh was just like yours and mine. Yet God made Jesus strong, like flint, like rock (Isaiah 50:7), so that he could withstand the suffering involved in human sacrifice. Yes, Jesus was a human sacrifice. He died a painful death nailed to a Roman cross.
Jesus Christ the man/Son of God then rose from the dead. Yes, he rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of God in the victory of God’s love over all death and all evil in the world.
How can faith in Jesus Christ help at a time like this? We will get through this. There is life beyond the grave. When we place our faith in Christ, we are placing our faith in the Rock. We are building our homes on the Rock, not on sand.
Matthew 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
Faith in Christ helps us because Jesus as a fellow-sufferer has already won victory over death. He now stands in the fullness of life restored and carries us with him. Suffering does end. We will get through this. There is life on the other side. It is the strength of Jesus’ love that carries us through.
My prayers are with the survivors and with America right now.
It seems there’s enough going down in the world and among Christians that good words are in order. It’s all I can do to keep my sea legs steady and try to love those around me constantly and selflessly (oxymoron). Anything that passes beyond that in terms of perfecting my spirituality is out of reach for me now.
This verse struck me the other day:
Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Elizabeth, while pregnant with John the Baptist, spoke these words to Mary, pregnant with baby Jesus. Elizabeth was Mary’s older relative. Both of these women had believed the promise of the Lord, and we see them here rejoicing and fellowshipping with each other.
Zechariah had received the same promise as his wife Elizabeth but had not believed. At this moment, he was struggling with being mute, a condition inflicted on him by the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger to Zechariah, for having questioned the promise by demanding proof, or a sign, as though the vision of the mighty Gabriel were not sign enough! He missed the joy of belief.
Another example of one whose disbelief led to misery was Thomas, who refused to believe that Christ had indeed risen from the dead, just as he had promised he would. (See John 20:19-31)
Zechariah the doubter RECEIVED what was promised, and Thomas the doubter RECEIVED what was promised. What they lost was the peace, comfort, and joy of anticipating the promise’s fulfillment, because they didn’t believe.
When God promises, the promise’s fulfillment is not based upon our belief–it’s based upon the nature and character of God.
God had promised a Savior to Abraham. As a whole, the nation did not believe, neither prior to the coming of Christ, nor when he came. God kept his word. The disbelief of the majority did not stop God from keeping his word. What did happen is that the nation as a whole rejected the fulfillment of the promise. Those who believed received. Had not even one single person believed, God would still have kept his word. His promise is a promise. It’s our joy that gets shortchanged when we doubt.
So the point? Hang on to your blessing! Don’t let it slip through your fingers by doubting. The promise will be fulfilled. There’s great joy and hope in that. God will accomplish in our lives what he has said he would. In these rough times, hang on to your promise. God is bigger and stronger than all our fear, than all that surrounds us in these days.