Monday, November 06, 2017

Massacre During Morning Worship

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Yesterday the members of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas went to morning worship service like they do every Sunday.

At about 11:15 AM, a man wearing combat gear burst into the church with a semi-automatic rifle, killing at least 26--- many more were wounded.

Many are asking, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?"

We are continuing to learn the details of yet another act of violence---this time the massacre of Christians attending a Sunday morning worship service at their church in a small town in Texas.

We will learn more throughout the day today as authorities continue to put the pieces together.

All news organizations were reporting on this tragedy, however, I felt CBS and Breitbart News had some of the most comprehensive reporting as of last night.

Both linked above are continuing to update this story.

This is a bit of what CBS reported last night:

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas -- A gunman opened fire inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Sunday, killing and injuring multiple people, authorities said.
Twenty-six people were killed in the shooting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news conference Sunday night.
The shooting suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, CBS News has learned from federal law enforcement sources.
Kelley is a former U.S. Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014. He was dishonorably discharged and court martialed in May 2014, CBS News has learned.
Federal law enforcement sources say the suspect used an AR-15 type rifle, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.
A law enforcement official confirmed that the gunman is deceased. He was shot after a car chase with police, but it's unclear if he shot himself or if he was shot by police, CBS News' senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.
The daughter of the church's pastor was one of the victim's killed in the shooting, her mother Sherri Pomeroy told CBS News via text message. Apparently the pastor and his wife were both out of state Sunday.

President Trump Tweeted, "May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan."

This comes a little more than a month after the massacre of people attending a country music concert in Las Vegas.

President Trump's words then may help to shed light on the questions many are asking now.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Last month the president called the act of violence in Las Vegas an "act of pure evil." In his address from the White House, he pointed to Psalm 34 to comfort the nation.

He said, "Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit."

His words tapped into the hard to answer questions that follow any tragedy of this kind---"Why?"

Russel Moore, the head of the Ethics Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, responded to the Las Vegas tragedy with words that are equally relevant to this one.

People were, and are asking, "Where was God in all this?" In this case, people go to church and get murdered in the pews? Why?

The following are some things to consider, while we learn more about this latest unthinkable incident.

Sometimes people are quick, too quick, to assign blame for sin, or sinfulness to those who are harmed in these attacks.

There is no question God chastens through natural disasters and tragedies, however, Jesus was clear when this question was posed to Him.

In John 9:1-12, Jesus' disciples asked whether a man's blindness was the result of his or his parents' sin. Jesus said neither.

We live in a fallen world, where awful things happen. When these kinds of evil are put upon people, Scripture calls us to first stand where God does and see it for what it is---evil. Not the illusion of evil, but evil itself.

Often we are pressured by non-Christian friends and the secular public in general to give a full explanation of why God does what He does and sometimes doesn't do what we think He ought to do.

The New Testament speaks of the "mystery of iniquity" (II Thess. 2:7).

When tragedy fell upon Job, he asked God why, but God didn't give him a complete answer, rather God spoke of His own power and His own presence.

God, as the hymn says, is both "merciful and mighty"---He stands against evil and violence, and we know that He is present and very near to those who are hurting.

We also know that ultimately God will dispose of evil altogether as He ushers in His Kingdom.

God brought the full measure of sin and evil to His Son on the cross. In the cross, we see horror, terror, and evil, but we also see that God is there.

We see an empty tomb.

Death does not have the final word.

As the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, so must we be close to them. We must be the people of the cross, as well as the people of the Resurrection.