Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
I have spent the last several days processing the Aurora, Colorado shootings. I have a deep sorrow for those among the victims who may have died without Christ. I am heartbroken for the families who lost members and who have no hope because they do not know and trust the Lord. I ache for the injured who are grappling to make sense of this thing which would be senseless, save for the fact that I know that we are in the midst of a spiritual war. For those who are unaware of that fact, what happened is purposeless horror, and my heart is crushed for them. I even feel pain for James Holmes, the man who stormed in, guns blazing and left a bloodbath in his wake, for he, too, has been most heinously deceived. Yesterday, I read that at least one family had begun a lawsuit against the theater, of all things. This, too, grieves me, because these people are desperately lashing out, trying to find someone to blame and some way to exact retribution.
The truth be told, there is someone to blame. Satan, that deceiver of old, the accuser of man and of God, the restless destroyer whose fate is sealed and who is all the more fiercely determined to mock God and to delude and devastate that part of creation which was originally crafted in God's image. That ancient dragon's schemes are relentless and I am sure the anger, the bitterness, even the lawsuits that are budding will bloom into a sickly-sweet aroma of victory for him.
Not all will let him triumph, however. He is not the only character in this story; he is merely the usurper whose rule has been exposed as evil and overturned, and he is wreaking havoc until the return of the King. The fact is, God originally gave dominion over His creation to Adam, but Adam turned his back on God, choosing disobedience over leadership and thus ceding his authority to Satan. That old goat has gloated over this triumph since and has attempted to hold the entire world in his sway, propagating lies and striving to undermine God's truth.
God, of course, intervened and sent his Son to pay the ransom for Adam's choice, and thus the serpent's rule was challenged and proved false. There will come a day when the Son will come and claim what is rightfully His, but in the meantime the devil is battling to annihilate and con as much of humanity as he may drag away from service to the proper King.
All of the tragedies that play out on earth are symptoms of this greater, more invisible battle. Trying to make sense of this or any other terrible event without understanding the role of sin or the greater spiritual battle that rages behind it is like trying to cure an illness without knowing what a virus or a bacterium is. In both cases, a person may hit close to the mark quite by accident, but there will be no true grasp of what has been done.
No matter how dark the hour or how cheerless the news seems, there is still hope. For God is still alive and active in this story as He is in all others. There is good news in this calamity; hope in the face of obvious evil. That hope lies in Jesus. He alone is the true Victor, and He offers His peace to all who will come freely, trusting in Him and Him alone. It seems senseless, perhaps, but if there is a greater spiritual battle going on, then there is a greater reality behind what we can see. We can sense it; for all of us have a deep, inner perception that there is Something greater than us, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. As children, we knew it unquestioning; as adults we often discount it as fantasy, though we are drawn to it. Superman, Spiderman, X-Men--all of them a human fabrication of that gripping desire for Good to conquer Evil in the end.
The fact is, Good will conquer evil in the end. The war has already been won, and what remains is the enemy's desperate skirmishes as he attempts to destroy the realm that has been wrested from him before the appointed time of its reclamation. Things will get uglier before the end--that much has been foretold as well. But in the end, those who trust in Christ will overcome. In Him, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). In Him, we can take heart, for He has already overcome the world (John 16:33). In Him, we will find that peace that passes all understanding to guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). In Him we meet the God Who Sees, the God Who Heals, the Rock, the Comforter, the Ancient of Days who never changes and whose love endures forever. In Him alone can we make sense of this increasingly senseless world. In Him we have hope, not because of anything that happens in this world, but that even after our bodies wear down and expire, our future is secure. Won't you trust fully in Him today? His offer stands--it is up to you to accept it.