In light of the horrible…just horrible church shooting in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, I wanted to share what’s been on my heart about God still being good on horrible days.
I don’t usually take on heavily politicized or heated topics and I still don’t intend to. I’m not here to debate about gun control, racism, our government or the many other issues currently plaguing our great nation. *Cough-healthcare* Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not discrediting those issues-they are all extremely important and very presently relevant. However, I don’t make a habit of ranting or rambling my opinions publicly on those types of things because frankly and honestly-I don’t feel I’m informed enough to make intelligent arguments or points about my opinions. I promised full transparency and in honor of real talk here’s a confession-I don’t watch the news-at all. I’m in the cancer bubble 24/7 and while I’m aware of what’s transpiring in our country…. quite frankly….it takes a back burner to caring for my daughter. Some may say I should be extra informed because of her and maybe that’s true but, I’m not and I’m ok with it for now.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way-back on topic.
Yesterday, for us, was a great day. Sophie was officially cleared as cancer free and a part of the enormous weight on my shoulders was lifted. However, for an entire town and for subsequently hundreds of other towns with family members affected by Sunday’s shooting-there weren’t a lot of good days today. One family lost 8 members. EIGHT. The stand in pastor, his wife, their pregnant daughter in law, and 3 of her 5 children. That’s not just hard-it’s crushingly unbearable. 26 lives ended violently and terrifyingly. An 18 month old was shot and killed. Read that again-it was a real sentence. 20 other people injured-left to witness the horror then wonder why they were spared. All of this took place in the place where most of us feel the most safe-in the church. You can’t just gloss over that with a big pink ‘religious’ bow-it’s real life-broken world-horror.
There’s a lot-I mean A LOT of terrible things happening all over the world. Just in my little world of family and friends there’s cancer, so much cancer and friends who might or probably will lose their babies. There’s Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, brain bleeds, infertility, and chronic pain. There’s family members remodeling their entire home from Hurricane Harvey and countless small yet equally important hurts. In the broader spectrum there’s war, hunger, genocide, rape, murder, rampant idolatry and selfishness. I could obviously go on but, we all know how horrible the world is.
That’s because it’s the world. It’s a broken-desolate place where we are all alone unable to redeem it for ourselves. Sin and evil have earthly reign in the brokenness. I know it seems like it’s happening more than ever right now and that Revelation is upon us. That may be true, or it could be that social media and every type of news possible is at our fingertips and in our faces 24/7/365 so we are much more glaringly aware of what’s always been going on… I’m not sure which it is.
The Bible tells us that God didn’t create evil. We can’t blame Him for the evil in this world-it’s not from him. Satan caused evil when he turned from God and was cast out of heaven to earth. Revelation 12:7-12 calls him out for who he is, ‘Satan, who deceives the world.’ He’s real. So is evil. Fear, guilt, hate, selfishness, envy, all are from him.
So the questions all still remain. Why does God ‘let’ bad things happen? Where is God when the pregnant woman and her 3 children are shot and killed? Why does God ‘allow’ cancer? I don’t have the answers to those questions. I’m far from a theologian or a bible expert…in fact I’m flat terrible at basic scripture memorization. I could probably-maybe- call up 5 or 6 that I know by heart. It’s not my talent. So I can’t just call up applicable scripture at any given moment. However, the magic of the internet is always there when you need to bring a verse up and tonight I did just that.
‘Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you (1 Peter 5:8-10).’
Bad things are going to happen to us while we are in this broken world until Jesus comes back and takes us home. That’s just how it is. The enemy is actively after us, at all times in big and small ways. We aren’t meant to understand that I don’t think. It falls to us to combat the darkness with the light. In the midst of the terrible-seek the good. We can’t always see God or sense his nearness when tragedy strikes but, He’s here and He’s working in it. I don’t and probably won’t know why 2 year olds get cancer or why a gunman would shoot 46 people in a small town church. I do know very personally however, that in the midst of tragedy and despair that the only way to keep breathing is to look to Him and that, yes, He will use this for good even when you can’t see it yet. That’s where you find strength in the horrible. Where is God in this? He’s right where He always is, in His word, in the love we show to others in their suffering, in the tears and prayers of people flat on their faces crying out for help. That’s where you find Him.
Now, am I saying that you should go to someone as their tragedy is unfolding and say ‘Don’t worry, your family is dead but, God will redeem this!’ Or ‘Hey it’s ok that your baby has cancer…you’ll be used for a great purpose!’. NOOOOO!!! No! NOOOOO! If you want to be heard, please just don’t. While I believe both of those statements are true….saying that isn’t helpful. At least not at first. Trust me. I’ve lived it. When you’re in the trenches of tragedy and grief that’s just not what your brain wants to hear. You’re still buried under why and how is this happening?! The last thing you want is to think about how you’ll be used at the end of this. Sometimes, even the strongest of believers, don’t even have the words or the desire to pray because it feels like nothing will come out. It feels like anything you pray can’t and won’t get answered because it’s too big. Doubting God in your suffering is normal, it’s human. THAT, my friends, is where the body of Christ comes in. That’s where people step up and step in to say :
“I know you’re life is in shambles and that’s ok-I’m standing in the gap praying the prayers that you can’t get out right now. I’m praying for God to use you and lead you in your tragedy when you don’t even know which way is up. I’m praying for God to reveal the purpose here because while the horrible thing is happening I’m praying that you know God is with you, and He will give you strength to stand against the evil that caused your pain. He will put people in your path to help. And when you can finally pray your prayers-I’ll still be here praying with you for God to move in your heart and use the broken for good.”
Sunday, a horrible thing happened for Sutherland Springs. Horrible things happen everyday everywhere. Yesterday, a great thing happened for my family. That just as easily could’ve been a horrible thing. We could be grieving today that her cancer wasn’t gone-faced with more horrible. But guess what? God would still be good. It would be so hard to see it but, He would still be good. In the good days, He’s good. Even in the horrible-He’s still here. he’s still good. And He’s still BIGGER.
Note: A friend of a friend is part of the family that lost 8 members and a GoFundMe has been set up for this massive support this family will need.