It is really easy to grow discouraged in the dark hours. When things around us look terrible, our plans are in ruins or awful things have occurred it is tempting to despair. According to our judgment, it is certain all is lost so we might as well just throw in the towel and give up we think. This is not how God works though. His plan is not set by our expectations. He often does His best work when all hope is lost. It is exactly why we are told that we should walk by faith and not by sight. Our faith in God powers us when our reason tells us we are defeated.
This is so clearly demonstrated in the Bible in the days immediately after the Crucifixion but before the Resurrection. Have we thought about what the disciples are thinking during this short but painful time?
The disciples gave up everything they had to follow Jesus. They believed that He was the Messiah sent to deliver them from Rome. They thought they were chosen to do great things for Jesus…and they just watched their hopes, dreams, and plans be gruesomely murdered on a cross.
All is lost, they thought. Their judgment, reason and intellect told them with absolute certainty the worst possible thing just happened. They knew that there was nothing to be done to change it. Their Messiah had failed them. Their God had been killed and left them in misery.
Think those are too harsh emotions to place upon the disciples? Well, look at what the two disciples say directly to Jesus when they meet Him on the Road to Emmaus after His resurrection:
The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Did you notice the verb tense in the first bolded session? They use the past tense. In the past, they hoped that Jesus was the Messiah who was going to redeem Israel. Now, not so much. Jesus had been killed so their hopes were clearly wrong. They had been shattered with Jesus’ body on the Cross. It is also very clear from Jesus’ response they did not believe in the reports of the Resurrection. They were so distraught and hurt from the crucifixion they couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of God working differently than their expectations.
Jesus’s response is simple:
Disciples you are walking by sight not by faith!
How many times did I tell you I was going to die and the Old Testament says it as well! Snap out of it and open your spiritual eyes!
Well, no, I added the last part. Jesus is direct but also much gentler than I would be in the same situation. Jesus loves them like a Shepherd tending His lost sheep and holds an impromptu Bible study showing them where they went astray. The love and patience of our Master is amazing.
With the events of the last few days or weeks, we catch ourselves looking at the very lost, very dark world we live and feel like all hope is gone. Our sight takes over and we wonder where our God is.
Did He fail? Did we fail? Has He abandoned us? Is there any hope for the church in a world where people interrupt worship services to murder people?
No, just like the disciples looking just at the death of Jesus, we are just not seeing the whole picture at the moment. God makes us promises in His word and He is not challenged to keep them. We just need to remember them and trust – walk by faith. His ways are not our ways, they are supremely better. His ways are perfect. They are worth waiting for.
Brothers and sisters in Christ are mourning today over the jarring loss of so many from a church like so many of ours. The pictures of the little ones are particularly painful. This is not the work of God in this fallen world. But God will use it and turn it to glory, how I don’t know. We just have to wait, watch and walk by faith in the meantime.
Michele Hill, Crystal’s aunt, explained in a message posted in the GoFundMe campaign that John and Evelyn, Crystal’s youngest child, survived the attack on the church and are expected to recover.
“Through all the pain we still hold on to the unshakable truth that we serve a mighty and just GOD. HE is on HIS throne and is kneeling down to hear our prayers and is collecting each and every tear we shed. We do not mourn their death because we are unsure of where they are, we mourn for the loss of their presence in our lives. We have no doubt that their last breath here was their first breath in the presence of our GOD and HE welcomed them with open arms. We STILL serve an awesome GOD and no amount of evil in this world will ever change that. HE is the ROCK on which we will forever stand,” Hill said.