This is the second time within five months that I’m writing a blog in response to a violent tragedy. Like what took place in December at Newtown, CT, I am equally horrified and shocked by the sadistic bombing that took place at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15! How can people make bombs and fill them with shrapnel with the sole purpose of inflicting as much death and damage on others as they can?
All of us here at St. Mark join our hearts in praying for those families and individuals who are suffering, especially those three families who have lost loved ones. Our hearts go out to them and we will continue to daily lift them up in our prayers.
But tell me, do you ever feel as if God isn’t listening? When you pray to keep people safe and then a tragedy happens, like Boston, do you feel as if God is ignoring you? When you pray to be healthy and then you’re told that you have cancer, do you feel as if God is punishing you? When you pray for forgiveness and yet you’re constantly reminded of your sin, do you feel as if God is condemning you?
Rest assured that if you have a relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ, He not only is listening to you, He’s answering you. He promises, “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). Notice that God doesn’t just promise to listen. He promises to answer. He promises deliverance. Of course, sometimes, His version of deliverance is a bit different than ours.
We want to be delivered from pain. God wants us to be delivered from evil. We want to be delivered from hardship. God wants us to be delivered from eternal hell. For that reason, God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him too. When we pray, God will answer “yes”, “no” or “wait” depending on what we need, not just what we want.
If He sees that our continued suffering will bring us closer to Him and closer to heaven, guess what? We’re going to continue suffering. If He sees that our continued tragedies will lead us to have opportunities to witness our faith, guess what? He’ll keep using those tragedies to accomplish His purpose of bringing people to heaven.
That puts a different spin on events like the bombing at Boston, doesn’t it? Events like that lead us to cherish our loved ones even more. Events like that lead us to realize our life is short. Events like that lead us to realize that we need to act now. As Christians, you and I have the only message that promises true, lasting deliverance from trouble. We have the message that Jesus is the only Savior. As our Savior He took all of our trouble, all of our pain, all of our death that we deserve to the cross. He did that so that by His death and His resurrection from the dead, we are forgiven, at peace, and destined for heaven by faith in Him.
That undeniable fact is the ultimate answer to our prayers. It doesn’t matter how much trouble we have in this life. It doesn’t matter how much pain we experience. Life in heaven is awaiting us, because Jesus is THE answer to our prayers! In heaven, there will be no more pain, nor bombs, nor sin, nor guilt, nor death. There will be only life, love and perfection.
Tell me, isn’t that something worth thanking God for? So the next time you pray for something, remember God loves you so much He’s not just listening. He’s answering…according to HIS will…for your eternal good!
Please join me in this prayer: Father in heaven, be with those who have been affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Please be with the families whose loved ones have died. Comfort them with your promise of life over death for all who believe. Help those who are hurt. Guide the doctors and nurses who care for them. And in all things, your will be done. We trust your promise that you will work good from this. You are a powerful and gracious God who always answers our prayers according to what we need. Amen.
-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor