September 11th, 2021 marked the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attack on our soil. It is an event most of us vividly remember where we were and what we were doing when news of the event reached us. On the 16th of September 2021, yet another mass shooting occurred. Twelve people killed at the hands of a gunman motivated by who knows what. He was killed as well, bringing the total loss of life to thirteen in that incident. With so much violence and killing a part of our everyday lives we can easily become numb and withdrawn. It can have a profound effect on our faith, either to make it stronger or to diminish it.
The Bible presents to us a God who seeks and saves the lost. Sometimes God is recalled as the God who leads us out of bondage into the Promised Land. Other times God is revealed to us as the one who fights the battle against evil and has in fact won. Revelation chapter 12 describes a battle in Heaven where Satan has been defeated and cast from Heaven to earth. We are warned that Satan will cause as much tribulation here on earth as he can because his time is short. Ultimately God will triumph over evil.
I am so glad the Book of Revelation is included in the Bible. It tells us that in spite of the struggle, the wars, suffering and death, God will triumph. As a former fan of the “San Diego Chargers,” I developed a habit of recording the games in part because I am usually pretty busy on Sundays. When the Chargers lost, I wouldn't watch the game. If they won, I watched the game and didn't have to get too upset when they made bonehead plays because I knew that they had won. Reading the book of Revelation is like knowing that your football team won and even though things may look absolutely terrible right now, there is peace in knowing the final outcome. So when life appears unbearable, remember that God is still in control and will lead us through the wilderness and into His Promised Land.
Life can look pretty terrible from time to time. What a blessing it is to have the certain knowledge that in spite of present circumstances God has defeated evil and our outcome is secured by the sacrifice of God's sinless Lamb. God wins and so we win. But what does it mean that God wins, to all those who lost their lives in violence, or otherwise for that matter? What does it mean that we win when we try to make sense out of our lives that no longer include some very dear people whom we have loved deeply? It sure doesn't feel like winning.
Jesus has told us that in this life we will have tribulation, but to be of good cheer for Jesus has overcome the world. When the world threatens to overcome us, bring our troubled hearts to the One who calms the storms with a Word. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, we are given visible proof that the grave is not the end of all things. It is just the beginning of a new life. It is in this new life where we live out the life God intended for us to have when He created us. Jesus has promised to prepare a place for each of us who trust in Him where we can be together for eternity. Jesus also promises to be with us always while we remain on this earth. Even in the midst of our conflicts and struggles.
That is where our faith comes in. God always keeps His promises. God has promised to walk with us through the world's pain and turmoil, not to keep us from it. Remember, God has not promised all of our dreams will come true. God does promise that He will love us and walk us through those times when our hearts are breaking. Before you abandon your faith because of the evil that exists in this world, ask yourself this question, "What promise did God break?" What promise has God not kept that would cause us to doubt Him? It is insult on injury that the Devil would tempt us to do evil and then tempt us to abandon the only hope we have in overcoming that evil. Yes, this world is a dangerous place. It always has been. But God is present in the midst of it all to hold on to us and to remind us that He has a better life waiting all who trust in Him. Pastor Dave