In the wake of the Vegas shootings, I felt overwhelmed. I had read a New York Times article several times throughout the day as it updated, and eventually even watched one of the videos posted by a concertgoer from that night. I’ll regret that for quite a while, as the sound of the bullets and screaming echoed in my mind for the rest of the afternoon. I texted a friend, equally as wearied by the world as I was, and together we wrestled with the question “how long can this go on?”
I don’t know the answer. I don’t have a date. Oh, that it would be soon. That the groanings of the earth would finally be put to peace by the arrival of its Creator. That the cries of a hurting people would be healed by the return of our Savior. Of course, I don’t know when that will happen. But I do know that in the waiting, our heavy hearts must spur us to action.
What do we do in such a dark, evil world?
We passionately intercede. We urgently speak of Jesus. We hope with a strength that is not our own.
Our cities cannot survive alone. Our world has been in a constant state of collapse since the garden of Eden. This isn’t news to us, we see it around us every day, read about it in our history books. Poverty, starvation, war, murder, natural disasters, genocide….all things outside of God’s original intention for our planet, yet here we are. Living in a world of sin introduced to us by the arrogance of our ancestors long ago in Genesis. As Christians, we can’t ignore this. As Jonah stood between Nineveh and the wrath of God, as Abraham stood for Sodom, as Jeremiah stood for Babylon, so we stand in the gap for our neighborhoods, pleading with God for mercy, redemption, and salvation. Our cities will not stand if we do not stand for them. In this time when it looks like precious little good is at work, we must fall to our knees and beg God to interfere in our communities, that God would “rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before You” (Isa 64:1). We desperately need the power of God at work in our world, and that starts with his children interceding for the lost and broken in their city.
As the past couple of weeks have unfolded, it seems that “when will Christ return” has become an even more frequently asked question than it normally is. One glance at the front page of the news, and a longing for Jesus is naturally what wells up in my mind. But I am also torn. If Christ were to return tomorrow….praise God. Hallelujah! I cannot express my joy and excitement at the thought. But how many of my family members would not be at my side? How many of my friends? My neighbors? While I am ready for Heaven now, I cannot help but need more time on earth. The state of our world, the evil that is parading in the streets, it must drive us to speak the name of Jesus with more urgency each passing day. Every moment ticks us closer to Jesus’s arrival; we are charged with the use of our time, a responsibility we must not take lightly. With each hurricane, each shooting, each attack...we speak the name of Jesus. Loudly. Clearly. The end is near, there is no question. So we must act. As Charles Spurgeon famously said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay.”
I recently read an article by David Mathis that stayed in my mind for several weeks, the gist of it being that as Christians, we always have something good to say. In every situation, because of Christ, we can speak hope. The world needs hope right now, specifically the hope Christians have to offer. There is hurt, and abuse, and pain...but there is also God. He will make all good and perfect in His timing. He has overcome this world, not one act lies outside His sovereign power. Yes, we suffer, but we do not suffer without hope. When the people around us see our burden but not our despair, this is when they clearly see Christ in us. The shooting in Vegas is an unimaginable act of evil. I can’t explain it, or give reason. But I can speak divine love and comfort into the lives of those questioning so much in its wake. I can speak of truth, of Christ, of a time when all will be set right again. When the dawn explodes into day, and the darkness has no place left to cower. Friends, one day demons will have no hold on this world, sin will be rejected once and for all, and we will finally be reunited with the love of our souls. The groom is coming to claim His bride. This is what I speak into unspeakable situations. Into hopelessness. Into the face of the enemy. My God is not done here, and because of this, I hope.
“Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” Ps. 51:12-13. My prayer is that in these dark times, the joy of our salvation is strengthened. That the more clearly we see need around us, the more we are filled with joy because our needs have been met in the blood of Jesus. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways. Sinners will come to repentance. The more we are filled with Christ, the more we pour out into others. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the weight of the world right now. To keep our heads above the water, we have to beg God for strength; to keep the miracle of our rescue in the forefront of our minds. For we are not a conquered people. We take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world. We are victorious. So we gather the broken pieces of those around us, and we pray. We speak Jesus. And we hope for the day when we have to hope no more.