Four things to remember in the wake of the Sutherland Springs church massacre

On Sunday afternoon, we began hearing reports of yet another mass shooting. This one was a little closer to home for me and many of the people I love. The evil attack took place at a First Baptist Church in a small town in South Texas. Note: I am the pastor of a First Baptist Church in a small town in South Mississippi. The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter was one of the victims. Note: I am the father of a 13-year-old daughter. 

 

Nearly everyone in the church that morning was either killed or injured. In a town with a population of only about 400, it is likely that nearly everyone knew one or some of the victims. It is not difficult for us to imagine what it must be like for Sutherland Springs. It is just as likely to happen to us here in Wiggins as it was to happen in Sutherland Springs. It is scary, but here are four things that I hope you will remember.

 

First, God is sovereign.

 There is no power greater than God. He created and sustains the entire universe. This terrible tragedy caught us by surprise, but it did not surprise God. He knew the shooter. He knew every victim. All were created in His image. 

 

Second, God is good.

 The obvious and fair question would be, “Well, Bro. Robby, why would a sovereign and all-powerful God allow something like this to happen.” I confess I do not understand. I do, however, know this one thing—God is good. All His ways are perfect. When I do not understand His ways, it is because I am not perfect. We are called to walk by faith in what we do not see.

 

Third, God is a refuge for those who seek Him.

 This world is evil and fallen. These events serve as a reminder of that fact. We cannot escape evil apart from seeking the Lord. There will always be devils who kill, steal, and destroy. These devils will possess people and lead them to kill, steal, and destroy. Even a cursory read through the Psalms yields the understanding that God is our only refuge and strength in these troubled times. 

 

Fourth, God is glorified through persecution.

 Make no mistake, that is what this attack was, a persecutory act. This evil man targeted these brothers and sisters because of the hope that was in them. Sunday’s attack in South Texas happens every single day all over the world, and it has been happening for 2,000 years. The reality is, though, that evil never wins. Persecution always serves to embolden the faithful and advance the Kingdom of God, thus persecution always works out for the glory of God. While we do not rejoice in persecution, we do rejoice in the outcome of persecution which is the glory of God.

 

I know over the next few days and weeks, we will learn more about the attacker and his victims. As more is learned, the media and the politicians will use the facts to advance their political and ideological agendas. Our prayer should be that God would use it to advance His own purpose and plan which is to bring reconciliation to the world.

 

Our prayer should be that the Christian community would show the world the hope we have in Christ. We should pray that when the family members of the victims are interviewed on the prime time video magazines, they would be strengthened to share the gospel by telling the stories of their loved ones who died believing the gospel. We should pray that God would, through this tragedy call out more followers and that they would respond with a resounding “Yes” to Jesus’ proposition to follow Him. 

 

It may just be that God would send a revival to our nation through this horrific attack. The people who died are my people. They are good people who love and worship the Lord. They were indwelt with the Spirit of the Living God who is greater than he who is in the world. I know that God must have used them to touch the hearts and lives of their survivors. As we hear their stories, I trust that we would hear the stories of how God saved them by His grace and that many more will be rescued as a result.