Written by: Tim Wood
I don’t like writing articles like this because it means something awful happened. And it did, last Lord’s day in Sutherland, Texas. Our hearts were broken again by an act of terror. Innocent lives were taken. A church was devastated. A community rocked to its core. We watch the news shaking our heads. We wonder, “What’s next?” We feel helpless. But we should never feel hopeless. I’m not asking what can we do; I’m asking what should we do? And as I asked myself that question, I came away with these answers.
First, foremost and clearly, we should pray. We should pray for the survivors who lost loved ones. Pray the God of all comfort will bring his comfort to bear on their lives. Pray for the church, the community and our nation. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray that the Holy Spirit intercedes with groaning to deep for words (Romans 8:26). In times like this, words fail us. But we believe the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when our brokenness exceeds our mental capacity to articulate words. We should pray that no one is overcome by evil but that we will overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Second, we should never get numb. We should never accept this kind of terror as the “new normal.” This has to change. We have to change it. Time and time again we hear calls for action after tragedies like this. And these discussions fade quicker with every passing catastrophe. Complacency gets us nowhere. There’s a lot of work to do. This would include plans to help the mentally ill. We’ve made great strides in cancer research and heart disease in our society. We need to start thinking seriously about mental illness. Getting numb to tragedy and terror will never solve anything.
Third, we should never be dominated by fear. I will not be afraid to go to a concert, parade, school or church! I won’t let fear be the driver of my life. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago (overcome your fears). I hope you read it. Believe, receive and claim these verses: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19). “When (not if) I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3, my parenthesis). “God has not given me a spirit of fear…but power” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Fourth, we should stay connected to our spiritual community. We need each other. We help each other. We encourage each other. Our church leaders at EVC need to hear from you. We want to take steps to make our gatherings as safe and secure as possible. We love God’s flock. We are overseers of God’s flock. In our prayers and discussions of how to make our place of worship safer, we need your voice and your involvement. One pastor who is helping out the church in Sutherland Texas said, “The church still works. We don't have a plan, but we have a community. We don't have answers but we have grace and peace. We don't understand, but we're present. Our hearts are breaking, but we have hope and we're giving it away as quick as we can.”
Last and perhaps most importantly, we should keep claiming the eternal Word of God. Claim these “fighter verses” because they help us fight the good fight and keep the faith and finish the course. Say these verses out loud. Pray these verses with passion. Teach these verses to your children.
Psalm 46: 1-2 - God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear…
Isaiah 41:10 - Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Matthew 16:18 – Jesus said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
I wish I could write that stuff like this will never happen again. But I can’t. But I can write that in the midst of all this bad news, Christ fills our todays and tomorrows with hope because He is THE GOOD NEWS!