As a pastor I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have half of my congregation murdered during a worship service. As one expert said recently, “No one is safe anymore.” Americans are very concerned about what has happened in the past, we worry about what is taking place right now, and many are filled with fear regarding the future.
One headline on CNN.com grabbed my attention: “It Can Happen Anywhere.” If we’re not safe in church, in school, at a concert or on a bike path, is there anywhere that’s safe?
Here are ten biblical lessons we can apply that will help us stay grounded even when the headlines shout out doom and destruction. During these days of emotional whiplash in the face of unspeakable evil, these timeless truths are comforting because they provide a framework that will help us process problems in our world and deal with the losses of life that we all experience.
10. God is powerful and in control. Even when bombs explode and a murderer mows down worshippers, God reigns in heaven and earth. The Bible tells us that He works wonders, even when we are not aware of them, and especially when we don’t understand what has happened. Isaiah 40:22: “…He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth…”
9. God loves to bring good out of bad. This principle helps us see that with God at the center of life, there’s always reason to hope. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
8. Things will get worse before they get better. As we get closer to the end of the world, the Bible says that things will get increasingly worse: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1).
7. Live one day at a time. One of the best ways to beat anxiety is to simply focus on the day in front of us: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
6. We are made for a different place. For the believer in Jesus Christ, this world is not our home. 2 Corinthians 5:1 reminds us: “…we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven…”
5. Jesus meets us in the storms of life. No matter what you are going through right now, or what hurricanes will hit your heart in the future, remember that when the storms show up, so does the Savior. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
4. Jesus is coming again. After He ascended into Heaven we read this announcement in Acts 1:11: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
3. The Bible is filled with predictive prophecy. When asked about what signs to look for that will tell us that the second coming of Christ is near, Jesus made this statement in Matthew 24:7-8: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
2. Run to the Lord. This world is not safe. The things we tend to trust in are fragile. God invites us to seek refuge in Him: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
1. Get yourself ready. I’m reminded of the passage where some people told Jesus about an event when a number of innocent people were annihilated. Jesus then brings up another situation in which 18 people were killed when a tower fell on them. In both instances, Jesus doesn’t give them an answer as to “why” these things happened. Instead, he personalizes it and says, “Unless you repent, you too will perish!” (Luke 13:4-5).
Are you ready to repent right now and receive what only Jesus can give you? If you had been in those twin towers when they were toppled, on the bike path in New York, or in the church service in Texas, would you have been ready to meet Jesus?
Are you prepared for what will come next? Remember…it can happen anywhere.
Rev. Brian Bill is pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church, Rock Island.