Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
As this devotion is being written, the body count on the Virginia Tech campus is still rising. Parents are still trying to find out if their children are safe. Families and students are in shock, and the entire world is in mourning and looking for answers.
In the days to come, stories of heroism and fear will be told. Questions will be asked, and some will be answered. Most certainly many will be asking, “Where was God when a gunman roamed the dormitories and classrooms? If He loves us, and if He is all-powerful, why didn’t He stop this horrible tragedy? Why didn’t He strike down a bad person before He could do this horrible thing?”
Are there any answers for Christians? I believe there are.
First, we must confess that this action dare not be laid at the feet of God. He who gave His Son to live, suffer, and die so this world might be given forgiveness, peace, and heaven would not cause such a thing. The motivation for these murders will not be found in heaven. Rather, the motivation stems from a sinful human heart where Satan’s seeds of hatred found suitable soil for success.
Second, we must acknowledge that God’s great grace and unrelenting love have the ability, even now, to bring comfort to those who are mourning. It can bring strength to those who are destroyed and hope to those who are filled with hatred and despair. We must remember that when Jesus died upon the cross, He saw this terrible tragedy, along with every other horror that has been birthed by sin and Satan. So that God’s people might know that despair and desolation will not have the last word, Jesus rose from the dead. With the power of the resurrection, He promised to be with us always. It is a promise He keeps. Believers are given eternal comfort and hope, even when looking down the barrel of a gun or standing beside the casket of a murdered child or classmate.
Lastly, we need to remember that Christ’s people are custodians of hope—hope that is found in Jesus alone. When the Amish children were killed in Pennsylvania, one old grandfather said, “Even now we are praying for the families of the children, but we are also praying for the family of the man who did this. We want them to know we have forgiven them already.” Grandpa understood. The Savior’s people, who are forgiven of their sins, can use this moment of mourning to let the world know that Christ can comfort hearts that are hurting.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we pray for those whose lives will never again be the same. We ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon those who mourn, hate, or feel loss. May He turn their hearts from this horror and cause them to look upon their Savior who wishes to make them more than conquerors in this catastrophe. Use us, wherever possible, to point people to a loving Lord who gave His Son so that all might be filled with eternal comfort and good hope. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.