GCCB Devotional 12 November 2017 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed….”
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Co 4:7–12 ESV)
I think we are all still reeling over the tragic shootings at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, last Lord’s Day. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and inquiries regarding our Texas relations. They’re all fine. My family is centred on northeast Texas, while Sutherland Springs, about a six-hour drive from my hometown, is in central Texas, about 50 km southeast of San Antonio.
A missionary friend of mine grew up in Sutherland Springs and attended that congregation’s Vacation Bible School when he was a small child. FBC Sutherland Springs Facebook page says that their aim is to “honor and glorify God by: Studying his word, sharing his gospel, praying for his guidance, and doing his will not ours.” Sutherland Springs is the sort of place that all Texans hold dear: the small community where everyone says “sir” or “ma’am;” where there are little churches like FBC Sutherland Springs that dot the landscape and are the community’s centre, and people, such as the two men who pursued the shooter, and the many neighbours who rushed to the scene to render aid, are the rule and not the exception. It is the sort of place where a district attorney in her portion of a press briefing, when asked how people may help the victims’ families, begins with the comment that the most important thing is that everyone uphold them with their prayers before announcing other means of showing love. Forgive me a moment if I’m a little homesick or sound as if I’m braggin’. It is not heaven, no, not by a longshot. But it is Texas. I know Queenslanders will understand.
How do we make sense of this terrible crime, this aching loss? Listen to their pastor: “I don’t understand, but I know my God does. And that’s where I’ll leave that.” That sentiment, that settledness on leaving that matter to our heavenly Father, is reflected in the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
Friend, do you have this settledness on Christ? If you do, rejoice in God’s goodness and mercy. If you don’t have this settledness, I urge you to flee to the One in Whom alone is our only true, eternal, and complete happiness and peace.