Even in the midst of this darkness that has put a dark shadow over our world, we can have hope in Jesus.
I was getting ready for youth when I learned of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I was immediately broken. I was angry and confused. As, I’m sure, many of you were as well. Horrific tragedies such as this have become all too common in the world today. The world is far different today than it was when I was in school (and I graduated in 2008). I worry and fear for my son and my students at M2L Students who are facing a world saturated with so much hate and violence. Evil was widespread when I was growing up. In my opinion, it’s even more widespread today. My heart cries out to God, and my soul constantly prays, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20b). But at the same time, I have so many lost friends and family members that my heart breaks. It breaks because of the evil in the world and that if Jesus returned today so many would miss it. Our world needs Jesus. I need Jesus. Even in the midst of this darkness that has put a dark shadow over our world, we can have hope in Jesus. After all, He’s the one who put the stars and planets where they are, fashioned you and I in our mother’s wombs, and created the vast variety of life on this planet.
I read in an article that after Sandy Hook, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings. According to The New York Times, “shootings have taken place at sporting events and in parking lots, cafeterias, hallways and classrooms. Sixteen of the 239 shootings shown below (see image from the Gun Violence Archive below) can be classified as mass shootings, events in which four or more people are shot. On average, there have been about five school shootings each month, including episodes that were not mass shootings. Each of the episodes falls under the definition of “school shooting” used by the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit defines a school shooting as an episode on the property of an elementary school, secondary school or college campus. Another defining characteristic is timing — shootings must occur during school hours or during extracurricular activities.”
I remember learning of the April 20th, 1999 Columbine shooting. I remember Sandy Hook in 2012. I remember Virginia Tech in 2007. I remember Orlando in 2017. I remember Las Vegas in 2017. When will it stop?
I know all the shootings mentioned above are not school shootings, but regardless, when will these senseless acts of evil stop? Honestly, I don’t see the world getting any better until Jesus returns. That’s the honest truth. Until the Lord Jesus Christ comes back people will continue to kill each other, steal from each other, gossip about each other, and do harm to each other. But even in the midst of the evil in this world I have courage because of what Jesus proclaims in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Do you believe that? Do you really believe Jesus “conquered” the world? I do. I have seen and personally experienced Jesus work in my life to the point where I could never deny the reality that the world is in His hand. And any act of evil God can turn, redeem, and use for good (see Romans 8:28). I believe that because I’ve seen Him do it first hand. When my cousin, who was the same age as me, lived a life of drug abuse it eventually led him to rehab, but it wasn’t easy. And toward the end of his life, despite the mistakes, the shame, the things he’s done, he found forgiveness in Jesus and I know one day I’ll see him again in heaven. Following his passing in 2013, I’ve seen some of my family grow closer to Jesus and even get baptized, because they were deeply impacted by his death. Jesus redeemed a life of drug abuse to draw even more people to redemption. That’s beauty made from ashes. That’s grace. That’s Jesus!
Jesus never said we wouldn’t have suffering. It’s clear as day in John 16:33: “You will have suffering in this world.” We mustn’t let the suffering of this world steal our hope we have in Jesus. Jesus is bigger and greater than our suffering world. We must stand, lock arms together, and pray regularly for our world, our friends, our family.
Jesus says in John 4:13-14 in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well: “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” If you ask me, that spells hope. We have hope that in Jesus we will have eternal life. We have hope that if He’s able to make us like a “well of water springing up in him for eternal life” He is more than able to conqueror any evil in this world.
Hope has a name. And that name is Jesus.