Tonight as I read of the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, my heart is broken because so many families are hurting. My heart is broken because I know there are people whose faith will be challenged. There are people who will become angry and blame God, and allow Satan to be victorious just as I did years ago. Satan is a master of confusion and doubt. He uses acts of terror like this to cause us to turn our backs on God in a time when we should instead find hope in Him.
Decades ago, before the mass shootings we hear of today, the pastor of my youth was shot and killed in the office of his church. My heart was broken. My faith was shattered. And for a time Satan was victorious because for years I questioned how God could allow such an attack on my previous pastor. Jeff Krahn was in the church! He was doing what God called him to do! I began to doubt everything I had learned about God. I grew angry with God for allowing this to happen, but eventually I learned that Jeff would not want me to be angry with God because he was prepared for death no matter the time or form in which it came.
It was during that time of doubt that God gave me the following scripture to restore my wavering faith: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15). These verses confirmed for me that I could continue trusting everything I had learned about God since childhood. Everything that I had learned under Jeff’s teaching and the pastors and Sunday School teachers before him. Everything I had learned from my mother and grandmother. All of those things convinced me that God is real, He loves each one of us unconditionally, and true hope can only be found in Christ. I realized that each of us has an appointed time, and all that matters is whether we have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior. We may go through difficult times that cause us to doubt, but we can lean on and trust the things that we have seen God do in the past and know that He will see us through again.
Since then I have been through many other difficult times, but my faith has grown stronger each time because even through the trials, I’ve also seen God do miraculous things. I’ve felt His unconditional love, and I refuse to give Satan the power to shatter my faith again. I’ve learned that there are times that God stops pain, and there are times that He allows it. I don’t always understand, but I do know that even in times of desperation, God is still on the throne. He is still in control. He will always be right there with us, and we can continue to hope in Him.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3)
Pray today for those suffering after this tragedy to find hope that only God can provide.