Ukraine, a Big Tornado, a School Shooting, and the Power of the Gospel
If you're like me, the last fourteen days have been some of the weirdest and troubling times I can remember (and that means a lot coming from one who has just walked through two years of COVID). Weird and troubling things indeed.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. - Matthew 24:6
With the death toll now in the tens of thousands over the course of just ten days (since February 24th), we feel the weight of this war, its increasing effects on our lives, and the heightened tensions of a conflict thousands of miles away from the United States.
A Big Tornado
...and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. - Matthew 24:7
On March 5th, an F4 Tornado passed through my hometown of Winterset and made its way northeast, powerfully skimming through a couple of Southeast Des Moines neighborhoods our church serves in. My wife and I saw the tornado crash down onto Army Post Road from a basement window in our house...it was a powerful and sobering moment for both of us.
A School Shooting
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. - Matthew 24:12
At 2:48pm on March 7th, there was a school shooting at East High School in Des Moines, killing a 15 year old boy and critically injuring two girls ages 16 and 18. East High is just 4.5 miles from our church and our church is involved with several families from that school district. This senseless violence breaks our hearts and pushes us to feelings of insecurity and helplessness.
The Power of the Gospel
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations - Matthew 24:13-14
How is a Christian supposed to respond to all these wars, calamities and tragedies? What is a Christian to do in response to such heavy things? Christians certainly need to sorrow and grieve. All wars, calamities and tragedies are the result of living in a sin-cursed world with sin-cursed sinners (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). Heartbreak is inevitable, so we should sorrow with those who are sorrowing.
But beyond the sorrow comes the call of the Gospel for Christians. The Gospel says Christians are not to sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The Gospel says Christians are to do good and be rich in good works to neighbor and enemy, in a similar vein to Jesus Christ's example when he walked the earth, doing good and changing lives (1 Timothy 6:18). The Gospel says Christians are to preach the Gospel to a lost world, especially in times of war, calamity and tragedy as people hunger and thirst to hear a true message of hope and salvation (2 Timothy 4:2). The Gospel is the message of peace to the soul in the midst of war (John 14:27). The Gospel is the calming message of hope when the tornado of sin and chaos threaten to take our lives (Psalm 46:10). The Gospel is the message that tells us violence is not the answer to our problems and that the forgiveness of Jesus is the only thing that can take away the anger of our hearts and the troubles in our mind (James 1:20).
The Gospel remains the power of God and the most powerful force on the earth! (Romans 1:16). Lift up your head oh Christian! God has not abdicated His throne. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Christian, let's remain obedient to what the Gospel says and in the midst of the incredible tragedy around us, let us hope in God!