Floating around Facebook is the meme of a cartoon in which one child is asking: “How come God didn’t stop the shooting?” The other child replies: “He can’t, He is no longer allowed in schools.”
The cartoon has made two assumptions that far too many people make in such situations. The first is the assumption that God owes us peace and tranquility in this life. He does not and has never promised such. Jesus came to suffer on behalf of His people and made it ever-so clear that if the world hated Him, as it does, it will hate us as well. That is abundantly clear by this most recent shooting in Oregon. More on this is a moment.
The second assumption from the cartoon is that somehow God can be kept out of our schools. Our Supreme Court may have the power and authority to rule in our land in the most ridiculous ways, but all of our judges across the land will have to answer to the Ultimate Judge come that day when Christ returns. God does what God wants to. We are His creation to do with as He sees fit and we need to quit playing Satan’s tune that we are somehow captain’s of our own souls.
The courts cannot keep God out of the schools and they did not keep Him out last week when the reprobate walked into that community college and started gunning down God’s children. If those nine Christians stood up, knowing that the shooter was targeting Christians, you can count on the fact that God’s Spirit was there with them, giving them the strength to stand and confess Christ before men. From the world’s vantage point, they were alone. But God never leaves His true children alone and the only way they could have stood up and made their confessions that led to death, was by the power of God’s Spirit; they were more with Him in that moment of seeming terror than at any other moment in their short lives.
That moment led to an eternity of peace and safety that God has promised us. True Christians have the joy of knowing that these sufferings we face in this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). This is the Christian’s eternal hope.
The world will ask why these nine did not just stay down and say nothing at all. It is because the world does not understand the hope we have. They want a future of bliss, but are not willing to come to the One who can give it to them. This is what leads to much of their hatred for Christ and His followers. In their minds, they are just in all their actions and believe, like Cain did, that their own personal religions are enough to satisfy the righteous requirements of God’s Law. But they are not enough. So their anger burns in them until they finally break and kill the Abel’s of our day. I would not be surprised if there were unbelievers in our nation who secretly rejoiced over the death of these saints just as the shooter rejoiced when he fired those shots killing our fellow believers.
Just as God did not stop Cain from his lunatic rage against his brother, neither did God stop the same thing from happening last week at the junior college in Oregon. There were nine reasons He did not stop the shooter. Those reasons were each Christian that died. God wanted them home with Him on that day, and wanted the testimony that they would give the world in their last moments, a testimony that has been given over and over since Christ’s ascension: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Yes, we can weep with the mothers who lost their children as one dear mother did so well in her article, To the Moms Whose Children Were Killed in Oregon for Being Christians. It is right that we weep with them. But it is also right that we rejoice with those who have gone on to glory to be with our King, trusting in Him that He had His reasons for allowing and ordaining what happened to happen.
This last truth should be dear to us as believers. Nothing catches our LORD by surprise because He has ordained all that is to come to pass for His own glory. The mature believer rejoices in this, knowing that God truly is God. All things are under His control, from our lives that are filled with regular trials, to the kings who rule over us, to the shootings and death of believers that fill the news. The mature believer understands this and knows that our lives on this side of glory are not our endgame. Glory with our Savior is the endgame and before those nine faced their deaths on Thursday, they may have not realized that. But the Spirit led them in the truth so that they truly made the best decision as followers of Christ.
Those Christians who do not understand these truths, do so by saying that God had nothing to do with this shooting. They seek to distance God from the events that took place. They seek to protect God from the abusive scrutiny of the world. Do not fall for such a notion. God was fully involved, letting the shooter be overtaken by his own sinfulness and by being with those who were being called home. Just as God was powerful enough to stop it, He was also powerful enough not to stop it and bring about His purposes and glory. The cynic and hater of Christianity will also be allowed to continue on in their hatred of Christ and His people. Only God’s grace can stop that from happening. He may show many grace in the aftermath, through the preaching of God’s word, but He may choose to withhold grace. That is His decision. Again, God is God, we are not.
So we can see that God had at least nine reasons to allow the events of last week to take place. But He had more than that as well. He allowed it, ordained it, for His glory. Let us be encouraged that we are not fools if we stand with the victims and say to the world that seeks our death: “I’m a Christian.”