A Thanksgiving Prayer for Sutherland Springs

SutherlandOf the many things I am thankful for, I am thankful for the Bible.  God’s word has been my strength, my comfort, my encouragement, my instruction and my wisdom…that is of course when I have applied it in my life.  As it says in Psalm 119:105: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Yes, I truly love the Bible and am so grateful for the words that God has spoken through it, but there are some books within it that I don’t read often.  Of those books Job is the one I like the least. 

Job is the story of a righteous man who truly loved God.  In Job 1:1 it reads:  In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil, but Job systematically lost everything, including his children. Job was a believer; he knew that God was on the throne and in total control, but he had no way of knowing why so many terrible tragedies were occurring in his life.  Job never lost his faith in God, even under the most heartbreaking circumstances that tested him to his core. Perhaps the hardest lesson we learn from the book of Job is that God does not have to answer to anyone for what He does or does not do. Job’s experience teaches us that we may never know the specific reason for suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign, holy, righteous God. His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30).  As believers we can, of course, say this; however, how about when we are tested like Job?  When the Son of man comes will He still find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?

During its 11 a.m. worship service, 26 worshipers, ranging in ages from 5 to 72, were gunned down at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.  Another 20 worshipers were injured. The church’s weekly service drew about 50 attendees.  The pastor and his wife were out of town on that tragic Sunday, but their 14 year old daughter Annabelle was among the dead that day.  John Holcombe lost his pregnant wife and three of his other children that Sunday.  I cannot imagine if that were to happen at our church. Can you?  Would we be found with the faith of Job?  Could we sing that Matt Redman chorus:  “blessed be the name of the Lord, You give and take away, you give and take away, My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name?” 

As we give God praise for so many things this Thanksgiving may we remember those at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.  May we also remember countless others who look to God in confusion and grief as they choke out a prayer and grapple with trying not to lean on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).  May we remember that sometimes giving God thanks in everything   (1 Thessalonians 5:18) is anything but easy, but always the way to healing and wholeness.

Christ suffered and died at the hands of wicked men but we now rejoice in the forgiveness of our sin through that death.  Jesus was victorious over that death and as believers in Him we too are victorious over it too (John 11:25). Our brothers and sisters of grief can be thankful for the God of love who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5) and who promises that we will join our family of faith one day.  This then is real faith and real belief when we can thank God even in the midst of the most suffocating grief.  Pray this for the beloved at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.  Pray this for the church everywhere and pray it for yourself and your loved ones.  Dear God, may we all have faith like Job…like it or not.

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