Almost two weeks ago a crazed gunman went on a shooting rampage during the morning worship service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Twenty-six people died.
Twenty-six people died…during worship.
I’m aware that Christians are persecuted everyday around the globe, but when it happens so close to home it’s a jarring reminder of how evil this world is.
Like countless others, I wept while reading stories, scrolling pictures, and watching videos about the Sutherland Springs tragedy. Viewing First Baptist Church’s worship service recording on YouTube from one week prior to the shooting was surreal knowing that the majority of those worshipping in the video are now worshipping in Heaven.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. —Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
Two immediate thoughts come to mind from the passage above:
1. We have a cloud of witnesses cheering us on!
2. Jesus endured the cross and defeated death so we can live undeterred.
un·de·terred | persevering with something despite setbacks.
If you need an example look no further than Pastor Frank Pomeroy (whose 14 year old daughter, Annabelle, was among those killed) and the remaining congregation of First Baptist Church. They held their first service following the horrific shooting the very next Sunday.
Through tears, Pastor Pomeroy said, “Rather than choose darkness as that young man did that day, we choose life. I know everyone who gave their life that day. Some of whom were my best friends and my daughter. I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today.”
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. —Romans 8:18 (MSG)
One member (Daniel Flores) of the congregation said,
“’We are not afraid and that we can and will move onwards, like the Christian soldiers from the hymn.’”
How about you? Are you hurting, broken, or perhaps shattered by life? Sometimes the easiest way to heal is to pick yourself up and begin putting one foot in front of the other.
Don’t throw in the towel.
Run to the Rescuer.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. -—Psalm 34:18 (NLT)