Posted in theology

Prayers for El Paso, anguish at the world’s brutality, hope in Christ

By Elizabeth Prata

I have read that an active shooting situation is occurring at an El Paso, TX mall and Wal-Mart. A shooter has shot and killed multiple victims, (early reports say up to 21 killed, including 4 children) with more shoppers injured and transported to local hospitals. So far a suspect is in custody.

More information will be forthcoming as police conduct their investigations. On the news brief, the Policeman said that the crime scene area is quite large, and they were still going through to sort victims from potential suspects, and retrieving people who sheltered in place.

The news reported an eyewitness saying the man went from aisle to aisle shooting, with rage.

Last week there was a shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. A video of the event showed people running in a herd toward the camera man. “Why are people running?”, we hear on the video. Bystanders didn’t understand what was happening at first, and a women who was told, said “Who shoots up a Garlic Festival?”

Sin doesn’t make sense. We just have to live with it, and with the people with blackened hearts and depraved and futile minds who perform these deeds.

The constant barrage of sin coming against us tests our faith. I read tweets from folks saying they are devastated, when will it stop, they are sick to their stomach. I feel the same. Of course I prayed.

I also remember having those feelings I’d had before I was saved when this kind of thing would happen (admittedly less frequently back 40 years ago). In addition to all the questions noted above, I  felt confusion, fear, and alarm.

Having the Spirit in me to open my eyes to why these things happen doesn’t reduce my sadness for the people experiencing the fear and panic of this kind of tragic event, but it does help in other ways. I understand why it happens. It does bring home the shortness of life especially compared to the longness of eternity. It does instill an ever growing gratitude to the Savior that I have peace and assurance, and that without Him, who knows what sins I might have been doing that hurt people.

Why does this happen? We are told why, humanity in its sin rebels against a holy God. I can’t imagine the spiritual anguish the alleged 21-year old shooter felt to shoot the man in the doorway at point blank range, then go up and down shooting others, including children. The brutality and unholiness noted in the list in the verse below will grow and grow and spread to more and more people as sin overtakes more and more people.

Difficult Times Will Come
3 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

That is quite a list of sins we have to live with. Did you know we are in the end times now? The “last days” are between Jesus’ first and His second comings.

In the article linked above, it ends with noting that as the evacuees from the Mall lined up on the sidewalk, a man with a Bible went up and down the line asking people to pray with him. As the darkness grows, our Light which is Christ in us should glow more brightly. We have the answers.

Sin forgiven, souls redeemed, familial adoption, a heavenly inheritance, an eternity of joy. All for the price of repenting. Call out to Jesus who saves, give up your sin, and be remade as a new creation, born again. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Christians still feel anguish, but it takes on a new flavor. It’s not spiritual anguish, that’s calmed when the Spirit comes in and we are at peace with God. (Romans 5:1).  No longer His enemy, we now look outward upon the anguish of the world that is without God.

No one on this side of the veil knows the date of their death. It could come in 80 years or it could come today. For the poor folks inside the store when the shooting began, some will never be the same, others who were killed met eternity. I pray that at least some of those were true believers, now rejoicing with Jesus for their life in Him. Others who are not in Christ, learned of their mistake, but will pay for it through all of the rest of time, forever. Ultimately, that is the anguish Christians feel when we read of news like this.

Repent and be reconciled, for we do not know what tomorrow brings.

And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Colossians 1:20-22).