I woke up on Friday afternoon to a Facebook news feed full of remorseful statuses regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Nearly thirty people, including children, staff, and the gunman’s mother, were killed in one of the worst shooting massacres in American history. I have refrained from Google searching the shooter’s background or the media’s take on his motives because in my opinion it doesn’t matter.
Among the many statuses calling for gun control, mental health programs, and more sensitivity to violence, the one that jumped out at me questioned God’s role in all of this. A friend of mine declared his faith in God, but admitted that he didn’t understand how God could allow this to happen. To be completely honest, I, too, struggled with this the day of the massacre. No other tragedy has affected me like this before. I usually just say a prayer for the victims and go on about my day, but after hearing the news I could not stop crying. I drove to the beach on a rainy day and stood in the cold, demanding answers and comfort. I have not been able to look at a young child without being moved back to tears in remembrance of the parents who will not be able to hold their babies ever again.
In my moment of uncertainty, I asked God everything from How could You? to Why are we even here in the first place? Why place us on an earth and then send Satan down to devour us? Do human lives mean anything to You? If it weren’t for an honest conversation with one of my dear friends and sisters, who knows how far into unbelief my mind would have gone. It scared me that I was so quick to question God’s goodness and authority. Over the past year I have gotten closer to Him than I’ve ever been and I honestly thought I was ‘over’ the doubt phase of my faith. Throughout my venting I realized the fact that I was even speaking to God meant that I still believed in Him. I had to pause and decide not to allow Satan to deceive me into believing my faith in God wasn’t real. In the bottom of my heart I knew that He was still God, but I had allowed my mind to wonder in a moment of desperation. Like most of America, I wanted answers.
There is no doubt that many Christians have experienced what I went through on Friday at some point in their walk. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of evil in the world and the circumstances are only getting stranger. The movie theater massacres, devastating hurricanes, and heart wrenching hate crimes simply don’t make sense… from our perspective.
It is impossible to ever know or understand why God allows murder, starvation, and rape to affect millions of people each day. As humans, we can only speculate and try to find purpose in every tragedy. This is not meant to scare you, but I know for a fact that things are only going to get worse from here. God has been speaking directly to me, as well as others, about what is to come. And in short, my visions have not involved flower petals and donut holes. For Believers, this is nothing to be afraid of, but we do need to be mindful of what’s going on the spirit realm. To our advantage, God is in the process of preparing and equipping His people.
After observing horrific incidents like last week’s shooting, we must reevaluate our faith and ask ourselves why and how much we really trust that God knows what He’s doing. If we do not ask the right questions now and come to terms with Him, it will be nearly impossible to trust Him when disaster hits closer to home. Whenever you experience feelings of doubt, don’t dismiss them and pretend that all is well. Run to God and be completely honest with Him, giving Him an opportunity to speak to you. He will not get mad at you for asking. It would be unwise for anyone to simply believe in God just because they are told to. Any serious Christian has had to ask questions for it is the only way to get to know God better. We will also gain a better understanding of what we’re up against once we dive into His Word.
From the beginning of time, it has been Satan’s job to steal, kill, and destroy. Knowing this, it should not catch us off guard when bad things happen. If anything, occurrences of evil should remind us that this life is a war and motivate us to fight back even harder. But in order to fight the forces of evil, we MUST be equipped with the armor of God. Since we are not fighting against flesh and blood, our only valid weapons are found in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:12) If you were raised in the church, putting on the armor of God may seem like an overused metaphor to you, but it is more real than any of us could ever imagine. Whether or not you believe in spiritual warfare, it exists. You can either choose to strap up and join God’s army or you can walk blindly through a battle zone and hope God reaches you before the devil does.
In Ephesians 6:13-18, we are instructed to:
13 Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
We cannot afford to take this lightly. As we have witnessed, the devil is bringing his A+ game. Instead of debating whether tighter gun control laws or more mental health services will solve our problems, we must realize that nothing other than light can conquer darkness. We, as believers, are that light! (Matthew 5:13-16) We are the only antidote to the devil’s schemes, but this can only be realized if we choose to become who God created us to be and remain in Him. (John 15:5-8)
As hard as it is to process a tragedy like the Sandy Hook School shooting, we cannot afford to lose sight of our authority through Christ. Yes, evil is prevalent in our world and will continue to be, but if we step into our divine callings, the enemy won’t stand a chance. Furthermore, we cannot afford to keep supporting media that promotes evil. Violent video games, gory films, racy television shows, and sinful music lyrics have no place in the homes of Kingdom-minded warriors. All seeds of sin, no matter how small you think they are, eventually lead to death. We are literally killing ourselves when we invest our time and money into that which directly opposes God.
50 shots were fired in a Newport Beach shopping mall parking lot last night and no one was injured. I believe that the millions of prayers received by God over the weekend had everything to do with it. All is not lost and it is time to start living like it. We really do have the power to change things, but we must adhere to Ephesians 6 and draw nearer to God than ever before. Evil is not a game; neither is Good.
Stay prayed up, my friends, and let the dialog begin.
“It’s Time to Shine” -Touré Roberts, One Church LA [skip to 1:03:05 for the sermon]