Dear Church Family,

The news from Roseburg, Oregon has left that community and our nation in shock.  As the information continues to be shared, we are all struck by the grief these families and friends are experiencing by the senseless loss of life.  Beyond this, our thoughts also turn to the family of the shooter as they attempt to make sense of what drove their son to do such a horrific thing. There are, of course, stories that emerge out of this tragedy—the heroic efforts of the Veteran whose actions likely spared more lives from being ended; the efforts of the first responders who put their own lives on the line and more accounts that will be shared in the days to come.

How are we to respond?  Many will ask why did this happen?  Where is God in such tragedies?

God is good – and He is sovereign.  This stands in stark contrast to the deceitfulness of man’s heart and the harsh realities of sin.  The depravity of mankind’s heart is exposed in such events.  Why does God allow this?  I cannot presume to know God’s mind and I won’t attempt to answer the “why” other than to say that sin has ugly consequences and sin affects everyone.  While God could have created us (better yet, “programmed us”) to NOT sin and only do good things, He chose to create us with a will to choose between right and wrong.  Adam and Eve could have chosen to trust God and obey Him, but they chose to disobey.  This choice of disobedience brought about real consequences (Romans 5:12).  God could stop all evil 100% of the time, but again, He created man with a will and ability to choose.  His desire would be that we would choose to love and obey Him.  Consider this excerpt from the website www.gotquestions.com in the article “Why does God allow evil?”:    

In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us (Deuteronomy 5:29). Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!

We need to pray.  Very simply, these tragic events which are allowed by God are opportunities for people to wrestle with real life questions.  Believers have opportunities to minister God’s love and His Word.  Let’s join in praying for these families that are grieving the loss of a loved one and those families with loved ones in the hospital.  Let’s pray for the Body of Christ to minister God’s love to these people.  Let’s pray with thanksgiving for the many lives not taken and for the “ministers of peace” (first responders, police officers, etc.).  Let’s pray for open doors to share the Gospel of God’s grace.  Let’s pray for the family of the shooter as there will be many who cast blame on them.  Let’s pray for the students and school officials that are directly impacted emotionally by his event.  Let’s pray for God’s mercy and grace to be evident and that He would receive glory.  Let’s pray that we don’t take life for granted and that each is both gift from God and an opportunity to serve Him. 

God’s blessing to each of you-

Pastor Paul