And Though This World, With Devils Filled…

I had an interesting day today.

You probably heard about my day. Media outlets across the country, and the world, were covering the latest university shooting, this time on the UCLA campus.

I spent about two and a half hours in my computer lab and connecting office suite sheltering in place with the class that was in there when the notification came to lock down the campus. We were in the building complex directly across the quad from the shooting and I had in fact been very close to the location of the shooting minutes before it happened as I went across to Engineering to get a cup of coffee. The containment perimeter was set up just outside our building and for about three hours at least one, probably two, law enforcement helicopters were circling overhead.

There is no question this is a tragedy. Few details have been released beyond that two males were killed in what was a murder/suicide. Over the next few weeks to months as more details become known we can debate possible issues that might include mental health, gun control, a culture of entitlement, unreasonable expectations about success, and probably a plethora of other issues. I can also tell you that based upon the experience today there are some significant issues with being able to shelter in place at some points on campus and problems with communication systems.

And then there are the theological questions? Where was God? Why did this happen? If God is sovereign, how can this possibly fit into God’s divine plan? All those questions we ask when trying to figure out how we are in such a messed up world when we proclaim that The Lord is a good God.

For some of these questions there are no answers this side of Eternity. We live in a fallen and broken world. Things are messed up. And yet somehow God is in charge. As the great Reformation hymn, A Mighty Fortress, says in the third verse:

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”

In the Epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul has the line “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” At a time like this that is one of those problematic verses I have no idea what to make of it. I will faithfully accept it and stay away from simplistic explanations.

But a few verses later Paul writes one of those passages of scripture that I personally hold onto through thick and thin, in good and bad, and especially at times like this:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We do not know what is going on or why. But we do know God is with us throughout it.

Can I get an Amen?




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