January 7-11: Hope in the Face of Evil
Psalm 56:11 - In God I trust, I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
How can a good God allow evil things to happen? Where was God and why didn't he stop them? Are there ways I can defend myself again Satan's attacks? Where can I find hope for the future?...
These are all questions we ask in the wake of evil and tragedy. It is irrational to believe that we will always stand firm, unshaken when we face adversities in life. No matter how much we know that God is in complete control and desires the best for His children, our humanity often overwhelms us.
In light of recent tragedy across our nation (Connecticut shooting, Colorado shooting, Hurricane Sandy, etc.), we at Moody Radio South felt it important to focus in on the hope we have in Jesus Christ. This hope is immovable and stands ready to proclaim the victory of Christ in the face of evil. The author of Hebrews describes the hope we find in Christ's salvation as "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)" Our souls (thoughts, feelings, emotions) are secure, no matter what we face, when anchored deep in the hope of our eternity with God.
Looking back to those questions and thoughts that often sweep through our minds in the midst of tragedy or evil events, let's journey through a few of them together:
1. How can a good God allow evil things to happen?
It is certainly a challenging concept to comprehend that God, the creator of all things, who proclaimed all things to be good (Genesis 1:31), could allow such evil to ravage the earth. It's even more difficult to understand how He can allow evil to afflict His children, those who have given their lives to the salvation of Jesus Christ.
This week in our interview with June Hunt of Hope for the Heart ministry, we were reminded that while God did create all things, evil is not itself a thing. Evil is rather a condition, a perversion of the good things that God created. This perversion occurs as a result of man's own sinfulness. For example, a knife in itself is not an evil thing. Knives are incredibly useful tools for preparing food, carving wood, and are essential for any camping trip! However, if that same knife is placed in the hands of an estranged human with the intent to murder, that knife is now a destructive agent of evil.
We must remember that God is good, and He is always good! (Psalm 136:1, Matthew 7:11, Matthew 19:17,) When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the enemy's biggest ploy has since been to take the good things of God and refashion them as tools for his evil schemes. As Jesus encouraged his own disciples in a time of pain and uncertainly, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
2. Where was God?
When tragedy strikes, we often wonder where God was in the midst of it. Why didn't he swoop in to rescue us from the enemy? Didn't God say that if we call to Him he will rescue us? (Psalm 50:15)
Don Hawkins asked this very question in his interview this week with Jack Eyre, Founder and President of Giving Ventures. Often our vision is clouded by the intensity of the pain, but if we shift our eyes towards the truth of the character of God, we can begin to see that He was very much present during our times of tragedy. We see this in the Biblical recounting of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were thrown into the blazing furnace after refusing to bow to King Nebuchadnezzer's idols. God did not save them from the evil they encountered. However, God was right there with them in the fire, and ultimately, He delivered them. (Daniel 3).
When our mind races through the scenarios of events such as the Connecticut school shooting, we can be sure that God was right there with His people. We will never know how God wrapped his arms of peace and comfort around His children, carrying them into eternity without fear as their lives here on earth were stripped from them. We can see God in the courage displayed by valiant educators seeking to combat the evil forces around them. We can see God's peace and strength guiding the teachers who used such wisdom to save entire classrooms. The future only knows how the goodness of God will shine forth in the future as those affected by this tragedy confront the realities of eternity and surrender their lives to the salvation of Jesus Christ.
When it seems that God is no where in sight, ask the Lord to help you trust His goodness and promise that he never leaves nor forsakes His people (Deut 31:6). As Jesus departed the world, He knew that his disciples would struggle with this same question as they faced persecution, rejection, and martyrdom His final words to the disciples are also a promise to us: "and I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."(Matthew 28:20b)
3. How Can I Defend Myself Against Evil?
One of the strongest truths that can provide hope for us as we face evil is that God has already equipped us for victory! When "fighting the good fight" (1 Timothy 6:12) we can rest assured that while our enemy is fierce, he is a defeated foe. In fact, Jesus victory over sin and death was proclaimed back at the very beginning of time when God prophesied that the coming Messiah would crush the serpent's (Satan's) head (Genesis 3:15). However, even though the final victory in eternity is won, we must still face the battle here on earth.
In our interview with Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries about his book Stealth Attack: Protecting Yourself Against Satan's Plan to Destroy Your Life , we learned that Satan is the ultimate spiritual terrorist, fighting dirty and targeting our weakest areas of vulnerability. Satan is invisible and he breaks all the rules! However, God promises to "arm us with strength for battle" and cause our "adversaries to bow at his feet." (Psalm 18:39). Understanding some of Satan's tactics, based upon his character, will help you identify and defend against his attacks in your life. Satan is a deceiver, liar, and accuser. Here are a few scenarios in which your spiritual radar might signal an oncoming attack:
- unusual or repeated temptations
- delays that hinder us from obeying God
- inducements to doubt God's Word
- circumstances creating unusual pressure
- prolonged discouragement
- worries that seem to consume us
- bitterness towards others
- desires to "give up" on the Christian life
- excuses made for lack of spiritual growth
- critical comments about believers
We must be alert at all times to the enemy's attempts to attack, always standing on the truth that our God is greater, our God's has won the victory, and our God has equipped us to stand!
Ephesians 6:14-17 - Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
So, where can we find hope in the face of evil? There is a beautiful hymn written almost 180 years ago that provides the answer far more eloquently than I ever could:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Our hope stands firm on the rock of Jesus Christ, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it! (Matthew 16:18)
- Jack Eyre - Gaining New Perspective on Evil - Giving Ventures Ministry
- Ray Pritchard - Stealth Attack: Protecting Yourself Against Satan's Plan to Destroy Your Life
- Pastor Wade McCrory - Clinging to God's Word
- Stacy Mitchell - Crisis Pregnancy Center - McComb, MS
- Pastor Scott Reynolds - Jeremiah 29:11 - Northriver Church Tuscaloosa
- Kerri Ash - Take 30 Campaign Against Violence - http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20130101/NEWS/121239981
- June Hunt - Evil and Suffering - Hope for the Heart Ministry
- Man on the Street - Evil in the Headlines, A Teacher's Perspective
Psalm 56:11 - In God I trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Matthew 16:18 - And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Psalm 34:17 - When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears them and delivers them out of their troubles.
Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
1 John 4:4 - Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Revelation 21:4 - He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Moody Radio South
Moody Radio South