It’s the question of the ages: “Where was God?”
Such is always the case when evil rears its ugly head like it did at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas on Sunday morning, Nov. 8. Those who’d assembled for regular worship had no idea that their beautiful sanctuary would soon become the site for unthinkable carnage, bloodshed and death.
But, that’s exactly what happened when 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelly stormed the church (about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio) and opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Within a matter of 5-10 minutes some 450 rounds had been fired, leaving 26 members dead and around 20 others wounded.
Thankfully, a nearby neighbor—who happens to be an instructor for the NRA—realized what was happened and mortally wounded the demented (or is that demonic) individual. And, shortly thereafter, after a 95-mile-per-hour chase, Kelly took his own life before police arrived.
While such senseless tragedies continue to abound—as do the escalating and insistent arguments on gun control—it wasn’t long before atheistic and agnostic skeptics piped in:
“Where was your God when Devin Kelley showed up?” wrote one.
“Yes, what good did your praying do?” chimed in another cynic, writing on social media.
Tough questions to be sure. And, questions that demand an answer.
That’s why it’s important for us to remember that evil has always been around since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But, then the critics begin asking, “Well, why does God allow evil? Isn’t He omnipotent (all-powerful)? Isn’t He omniscient (all-knowing)? If so, why didn’t He do something to stop Kelly…and the mass killer in Las Vegas…and ISIS in the Middle East…and the terrorists on 9/11…and Hitler…and…and…and?”
Again, tough questions.
But, dear Reader, in reality there aren’t any easy answers to such questions. That’s where Faith comes in—a Faith that says “Even though God ALLOWS evil, He doesn’t CAUSE it.” And, it’s beyond our ability to understand why He doesn’t put an end to such things now.
So, again, like those who’ve gone before us in every generation since the Fall, we must continue trusting in a God we cannot see. And, we must live with the confident assurance and Hope that one of these days He will put an end to evil.
Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals how incredibly evil the world can be at times. Just read the stories of Joseph and Job in the Old Testament. And, none of them can compare to the story of Jesus and all that He suffered while here on the earth. Thankfully, His Story didn’t end with a borrowed tomb. Thankfully He arose and one day will come again, which causes me to live with Hope even in the face of such atrocities.
I’m sure those suffering souls in Sutherland Springs, Texas, will always remember that horrible day. 11/8 will now join the ranks of 9/11 in their memories. But, I’ve got to believe that many of the survivors will use this experience as an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord, not shake their fist at Him.
You see, it’s all about the heart.
The Bible teaches us that the heart is incredibly deceitful and no one can truly know it. That’s why it’s important to experience the New Birth Jesus talked about with Nicodemus that night (John 3). Only then will we receive a new heart and mind that look at things from an eternal perspective, not a temporal one.
Here’s praying the Heavenly Father will bless you if you’re struggling with all of this right now. Hopefully you’ll know He is “our Refuge and Strength—a very present Help in our trouble” (Psalm 46:1). God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org