Giving an Answer

What can one say when tragedies occur, such as what took place in a small Texas grade school yesterday? Is God still good? Is He still in control? Did He allow this to happen? And if so...why? I have my own thoughts on the answers to each of these, but that's not what I want to share today.

My sister is a public school teacher. The question on her mind in the middle of the night was, "How do I keep them safe?" The simple answer? You can't.

Of course, we can create new laws—and possibly even try to enforce them—but what it comes down to is that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). We already have laws that say murder is illegal, and yet, from the second generation of the human race, murderous intent came naturally (Gen. 4:8). Within a few generations, the hearts of mankind had fully embraced evil, "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that EVERY inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was ONLY evil ALL the time." {Genesis 6:5 - emphasis mine}

The world is a mess. Children are killed in mass shootings; families have been ripped apart as one country attacks another; a stream of famine, disease, and hatred of those who are deemed "less" than someone else floods our feeds. If we fix our eyes on the news headlines of the BBC, it would seem that there is no point to getting out of bed in the mornings. Let's hoard our food, dig a bunker, and hunker down until Jesus returns or we die.

But now I speak to those of you who, like me, are followers of Jesus Christ. This is NOT what we have been called to do. We were warned that things would get worse before they get better.
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." {John 16:33}
And we were entrusted with a message of Hope to share...
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have HOPE." {Romans 15:4}

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the BLESSED HOPE—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good." {Titus 2:11-14}

"Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for He who promised is faithful." {Hebrews 10:23}
Did you catch that?? >>> He who promised is faithful. <<< My brothers and sisters in the Lord, take these words to heart! He IS faithful...when the world is falling apart, when it seems like you can't handle one more piece of bad news or hardship, when you want to hide under your covers and be the "speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil" monkeys 🙊🙈🙉 ...He is STILL faithful. He is STILL in control. And we CAN trust Him. In everything.

And so what if the worst comes? What if we are faced with death? Do we, as Jesus followers, mourn like those who have no hope? Surely NOT!
"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." {1 Corinthians 15:19}
I often have this conversation with our kids. Am I looking forward to death? Yes. To quote my cousin, because I do not serve a dead Christ, but a living Christ. I know why I'm here, and I know where I'm going. Am I looking forward to the PROCESS of dying? No, of course not! Who looks forward to that? I'm a human wimp, just the same as anyone else. The process of dying could be painful, it could be prolonged, it could be momentarily terrifying. But while death comes to all of us, it is not the end.
"Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." {Hebrews 9:27-28}
And if it's painful? If it involves suffering? ⤵️
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, YOU ARE BLESSED. 'Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the HOPE that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," {1 Peter 3:14-15}

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." {Philippians 1:20-21}
May we have "sufficient courage" to face a world that needs the Hope of a Savior. May we be "prepared to give an answer" when people around us want to know why we have Hope. May we "love our neighbors as ourselves" so that they see Jesus shining through us. And if the Lord doesn't respond in the way we know He can? Then may we respond as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in Daniel 3...
"King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." {Daniel 3:16-18}
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. In Him, and Him alone, do I have Hope. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In good times and in bad, may those of us who claim to follow the Lord Jesus, exalt Him, so that others may see and seek.

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