It happened again on Sunday.
I was sitting on my couch watching football, when a friend texted about a mass shooting that was unfolding in Texas.
A 26-year-old gunman named Devin Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing at least 26 people, and injuring more than 20 others.
The death toll counts for roughly 4 percent of the Sutherland Springs population.
My first thought admittedly wasn’t heartbreak or pain, but the question of “again God?”
AGAIN God, innocent people have lost their lives and loved ones to heinous evil.
AGAIN God, our brothers and sisters were attacked in their place of worship.
AGAIN? I found myself questioning, WHY, God, does this keep happening? WHY are we losing precious souls—lives You created and formed with your own hands—to the monstrous acts of true evil?
I quickly searched what the media has labeled as “the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history” (because it wouldn’t be worth reporting if the press couldn’t pour salt into an already gushing wound with a hyped title like that).
Y’all, seeing these faces, reading their stories, learning the names of survivors…my heart was absolutely shattered.
One of the victims was Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy.
Frank and his wife, Sherri, were traveling out of state when Kelley opened fire on their church, killing or injuring nearly every member of their congregation, and rattling the tight-knit 700-member community of Sutherland Springs like nothing ever had before.
Eight other victims are believed to be members of one family—a pregnant mother and three of her children along with the woman’s brother-in-law and his young child.
With each new detail being released, my heart ripped further and further.
As I began to pray, I was at a loss for words.
I was angry. I was scared. I was defeated by the thought that every Sunday, people around the world gather to worship an all-loving and all-knowing God. And even in the house of the Lord—a small little Baptist church in a small little Texas town—our brothers and sisters weren’t safe from the evil of a disturbed human being.
November 5 is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I highly doubt the shooter knew of this, but Satan did. It reminded me that spiritual warfare is REAL. The battle between good and evil, death and life—it’s REAL, and it’s happening in REAL time.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Heavenly realms—things we cannot see.
We cannot see God at work or Satan’s meddling hand.
We cannot see the ARMIES of ANGELS going into battle against the evil forces sent to destroy our earthly existence.
We cannot see the reasons why 26 innocent lives were lost on Sunday—lives of people who put their faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ.
But we do know this:
1. God’s heart is broken right along with ours.
These people were His children. This evil was not of God or things above, but of Satan and things of this world.
2. We are called to put on the full armor of God.
The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which Paul says comes from the “gospel of peace,” and the “word of God.”
Arm yourselves, brothers and sisters, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.
As long as the earth is still spinning, the evil attacks, the mass shootings, the persecution of Christians and innocent human beings will persist.
But with the gospel of peace, the word of God, we have something others do not. Amidst the trials and tribulations, we have peace that surpasses all understanding.
“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
He has already won, therefore, Satan, you have no place here. Your schemes will not break us. As a CHURCH, as a band of brothers and sisters in Christ, CHILDREN of the Father, we will be stronger.
We will suit up for battle, we will worship His faithfulness, mercy, comfort and GOODNESS, and we WILL fight the good fight because we have been called to eternal and abundant life (1 Tim 6:12). Something that no earthly evil or worldly violence can ever threaten or take away.
There is light in the darkness, and we have been called to shine it brightly as for the Lord.
Evil will come, but we can be ready.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
And let all that you do be done in love.”
Our prayers are with those of the Sutherland Springs community, First Baptist Church, and the persecuted church around the world. Our hearts break with yours, we mourn with you, and we pray that the name of Jesus would be made known because of brothers and sisters like you.