The Texas Church Shooting: Waiting on the Lord in the Midst of Evil
by Rev. Frank C. Ruffatto
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:8)
What a horrific thing. Even as I was announcing that we would be offering active shooter response training, evil was acting with impunity as a gunman murdered more than 20 people during a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
I have been thinking and praying about this; and, frankly, I have been avoiding praying and thinking about this. Psalm 7:14 came to my mind: "Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment."
I think my avoidance of prayer and thought on this tragedy (and in the wake of several other recent incidents) was because I was feeling overwhelmingly disillusioned.
Another translation of of Psalm 7 says that when the wicked conceive evil they give birth to lies. And it seems that the father of lies, Satan (John 8:44), is fomenting the birth of this wickedness. And, unfortunately, humans who reject the love of God - who reject God Himself become the midwives of the lies and disillusionment we face.
Now, I know better than to put my trust in man, but, I confess great disappointment when evil rears its head. And so, the prophet Habakkuk came to mind as he cried out to the Lord amid violence and injustice.
"O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you 'Violence!' and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So, the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so, justice goes forth perverted." (Habakkuk 1:24)
I think Habakkuk is echoing the sentiments of many of us who wonder why God does not immediately and directly deal with the evil that surrounds us.
The Lord had an answer for Habakkuk - and an answer for us.
"And the LORD answered ... 'Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end - it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. 'Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.'" (Habakkuk 2:2-4)
The Lord knows the proper timing for everything. He deals justly and with mercy where He sees fit. His purposes are fulfilled at a time set by Him. And so, waiting for the Lord is an act of faith and hope. This is especially important to us as we get caught in the eddy of the 24-hour 'news' cycle. St. Peter reminds us: "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:8) Since God is eternal, what seems to us to be a long time is not very long at all to him. And so, we wait upon the Lord.
God is more than aware of the evil around us and as we see it He calls us to have faith in His justice at the cross of Christ; and, He call us to faithfulness to His will whatever the circumstance.
As we pray for peace and justice; for evil to be thwarted we cannot deny that it exists. So, we trust that the Lord is working redemptively for us. So, we respond by being prepared for Him and being prepared for the evil of our days.