Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
Finding the right words to say is sometimes quite difficult. Making sense of the unspeakable sorrow such as was experienced at Virginia Tech this past week is nearly impossible. I find myself saying as Solomon said in Ecc.12:10 “The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words; and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.”
I applaud those students and faculty who stated they will not let the cruelty of one person redefine their future and their sense of purpose in life; that they will not let this person poison their hearts with fear and hatred.
Bad things happen to innocent families and innocent communities. Our response to these life altering experiences can radically change our outlook on people and life in general. When tragedy strikes so many in such an unexpected way this can exponentially accelerate a communities shift in thinking. In Christian circles this shift in thinking has lead to spiritual awakenings. Out of suffering can come life giving lessons that forever change the dynamics of our thinking. A greater appreciation for others and life itself effects changes in the soul that produce a greater giving of self. Recognition of the worth of others expands and we find ourselves with the capacity to feel the pain of others. A greater understanding evolves and we rise through our pain. We are not helpless, but we are inter-dependent. We need one another. God made us to lean on one another at times. Perhaps if the perpetrator of this crime had tried to lean on others instead of suppressing his pain he would have turned out to make his parents just as proud as those whose lives he took.
Our Lord says to us “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Matt.11:28-29.
Our son is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Tech. As an engineering student he spent numerous days each week on the second floor of Norris Hall. We thought as I know all Hokie parents do of their children who are safe, “what if it had been my son or my daughter?”
We pray for God’s peace and grace for those parents and brothers and sisters and grandparents and boy friends and girl friends and friends who lost loved ones. And we pray for those who were parents themselves who died, we pray for their loved ones as well. We pray for the recovering victims and their families too.
The suffering is immensely undeserved and finding answers as to why these things happened is mind numbing.
We know it was not God’s fault nor was it any person’s fault, other than the perpetrator, acting out on sinful thoughts. We are all sinners; however, most of humanity does not choose to allow sin to reach evil proportions.
What we know is that sin in mankind is capable of the most unthinkable acts.
It is incorrect to say or even think poverty or environment led to this young man’s heinous acts. There are plenty of students at Virginia Tech who barely scratch by, who look for coins in the pay phone slot, or go couch mining for coins, or work and go to school part time until they can graduate, but they do not allow their meager living to define their reason for living. Had this young man finished his education and gotten a good job he would have the means to buy the things he envied others having.
Had he invested effort to make friends and be friendly he would have found a treasure greater than any material possession, Prov.18:24.
What we know is that Jesus Christ came to this world and became our sin bearer on the cross. And we know that his peace is extended to all who come to him for salvation and personal consolation. He knows the pain of undeserved suffering and he knows the pain of those who have lost loved ones. He points us to a loving heavenly Father who will judge the wicked and who will also comfort the afflicted.
The Apostle Paul when asking God for relief from his undeserved suffering as noted in II Corinthians 12:8-10 received his answer to prayer. God said his grace of peace and understanding would sustain Paul and in his weakness he would find a new strength. The word in the Greek text for strength is where we get our word, dynamite.
This word means power. This power or strength to go on and become what God wants you to be is connected to Jesus Christ. This is why Paul said in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
My prayer for those of you who are suffering is that you will allow God to speak to your hearts and minds. Give God a chance to be God.
Beware of the human instinct to find blame in God. This point of contention between men and God is not uncommon. Blaming God for not preventing suffering in the world falls into Satan’s plan to use trials to alienate you from God. If God were to prevent all suffering in this world he could not have allowed mankind to go on and he would have to take all of us out. As sinners we all have the potential to bring harm and undeserved suffering to others. It is instinctive to strike out in anger and resentment, but we must not let these emotions overcome us. The word resentment from the French means to re-feel something. To re-feel love and acceptance and wonderful memories of our loved ones can help heal the broken heart. But to re-feel anger and vengeance only instills hatred and bitterness. Bitterness can have deep roots that can strangle the joy out of a person and as a matter of fact the writer of the book of Hebrews says this bitterness can spread to others and defile their lives as well, Heb.12:15.
To become bitter and resentful toward God or mankind when sorrow strikes is to loose the battle in our minds. We must not become prisoners to sin’s poison, and we must not become pawns to Satan’s posturing; something he does so well when the chips are down for us.
May God bless you and may these sorrows confirm even more your love for the Savior and the undeserved suffering he endured for all of us.
April 20, 2007