|Posted on October 5, 2017 at 12:55 AM|
By now I’m sure you’ve heard the news of another mass shooting, the worst in U.S. history. Words cannot express the agony of the victims and their families at this moment nor the sorrow we feel for them. This senseless act of cowardly murder cannot be understood as anything other than evil in its purest form. And our prayers for the survivors, and our nation, are the source of strength we need to endure these perilous times. Only the God of all comfort can answer the desperate cries of the anguished soul.
In such times of excruciating pain and grief our natural tendency, even among believers, is to question not only the goodness, but even the very existence of God. “If there is a God, how could he let this tragic happen to so many innocent people?” On the surface blaming God for this tragedy may seem sacrilegious but is actually a first step to receiving his comfort. In the days that follow many will blame the guns used, our lawmakers, our culture of violence, a society of hate speech, etc., but only those who believe in the existence of God will blame him. Blaming God is simply a negative expression of our faith in his existence which, after our initial anger and frustration, opens the door for his comfort.
A first bit of comfort in these perilous times comes from the understanding that evil is a necessary consequence of genuine love. Evil is not a creation of God but rather the natural consequence of the exercise of the freedom of choice. To have a meaningful relationship of love, we must be given the freedom to choose not to love. Any coercion to love is not true love, but rather forced compliance. In giving us the freedom of choice, God made himself vulnerable to our own rebellion against his love. Such a choice is the source of all evil in this present world. The perpetrator of this mass shooting committed such an evil act because of his own rebellion against God who is love.
But understanding the existence of both God who is love and the evil in our world does little more than remove God from the blame game. The comfort we desperately need now does not come from the prevention or elimination of evil, but from the abundant flow of God’s love in the midst of these perilous times. The apostle Paul assures us that even in the worst of times we are never separated from the love of God (Romans 8: 38, 39). Despite the overwhelming suffering from the evil of this mass shooting, God’s love is able to comfort all who will call on him. His indwelling Spirit is continuing to make intercession for all involved with “groanings which cannot be uttered”. His promise to those who do is, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In the dark days ahead for the victims and families of this evil tragedy I ask each of you to join me in prayer for the supernatural comfort of our loving God. From the scriptures, we are assured Jesus not only knows about their suffering but feels the full extent of their pain. And as our faithful high priest he is able to miraculously comfort all through the indwelling Comforter he left living in us.